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Malaysia is being ever so nice to US headquartered bank Goldman Sachs which, through its Singapore Office, it is now known from the evidence given by one of its former staff, Tim Leissner, to have assisted in the theft and laundering of part of the now infamous 1MDB fund.

The bank, which is now seeking to take on new staff in the relevant department in Singapore, has been asked to give back the estimated USD600 million in fees it took for its assistance. Iit's at least arguable that Malaysia doesn't have to ask nicely: it could just take the money. GS doesn't want to pay out in every direction: it's already accepted the probability of "significant fines" in the US as a result of an investigation there.

Here's a step-by-step guide to getting the money back without the bank's co-operation.

It's a story that isn't gripping Malaysia: in 2015, a helicopter crash resulted in the deaths of several prominent members of the government of then Prime Minister Najib that Najib's office said was carrying guests from a wedding reception for Najib's daughter. Now, in an action before the Shariah High Court in Kuala Lumpur, there's a dispute over the very substantial estate of one of the politicians. So far, in a country obsessed with 1MBD, no one is asking loudly how such wealth was accumulated by one man in a life in public service.

In the dying days of the parliament dominated by Malaysia's now disgraced prime minister Najib Razak and those close to him the government passed its Anti-Fake News Act 2018. Its stated aims were sensible but in a country where the government had regularly arrested and held without trial those who expressed opinions contrary to those of or critical of the government and the ruling United Malay National Organisation (UMNO), its true purpose was widely regarded as a tool to further suppress legitimate dissent. Its repeal was an election promise that has been kept.

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Ironically, the new-found press freedoms (which have not been backed by changes in legislation) have demonstrated a problem. The media, which has long had oppressive control foisted on it has learned self-censorship drawn far inside boundaries in countries with greater press freedom. Now the problem is this: domestically trained journos don't know where boundaries should be. So when an application was granted for restrictions on reporting matters subject to charges against former PM Najib Razak, there's mistaken outrage.

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There is a wonderful, and completely fictitious, meme going around Malaysia - Najib asks Anwar if he has any advice for being in jail. Anwar answers "don't drop the soap." Aside from being hilarious, in a country where political comment has for some years ended up with people being arrested, there is the irony that Najib is attempting to run the defence that charges against him are politically motivated - exactly the failed defence that put Anwar in jail. Unlike Anwar, Najib is being vocal in denying any wrongdoing which is also ironic because almost no one in the country wanted Anwar charged, much less convicted.

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Countries in Asia, the Middle East and South America maintain a tight grip on the media with systems of favours, licensing, enforcement, harassment, imprisonment and even death of those who write or, even, research stories that may criticise incumbent authorities. Malaysia has for decades been one of the countries with a raft of laws, perniciously applied, to prevent the publication of anything that tends to show the government or incumbent politicians or party in a bad light or, worse, promote genuine discourse and democracy. Three weeks ago, democracy won anyway with a remarkable election and media freedom - with appropriate responsibility - has arrived.

The case is building against former Prime Minister Najib and so far the focus is on money laundering. But there is another, easier to prove and much faster and much cheaper way to take action against both Najib and his wife, Rosmah and although there's an implied abuse of power, there's no need to prove it, no need to prove money laundering, no need to prove that money was stolen from 1MDB or elsewhere. There is a quick, simple, brutal tool at the government's disposal that might enable the near-immediate recovery of more than three million ringgit.

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Last Wednesday, Malaysians voted to boot their sixth prime minister, Najib, out of office. As the new government set about being formed, it became clear that many senior appointments would be terminated and some not too kindly. Thursday and Friday were public holidays. Saturday and Sunday were days off. Today the head of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission walked into his office and submitted his letter of resignation. (free content)

As the euphoria of the overturning of a much disliked government wanes, there are several important matters to deal with.

Perhaps the most difficult will be the question of corruption which has been endemic and systemic for many years.

Strangely, the one person who might be credited with kick-starting the widespread rejection of corruption might be the one person who is first amongst those whose conduct will be open to question.

There are few things about Malaysia's Najib government that have caused as much anger amongst the populace as the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax ("GST") which is, in fact, a form of Value Added Tax. It was an election promise that Mahathir's coalition would repeal it and reinstate the old Sales Tax. Even during a press conference yesterday, before he was sworn in, Mahathir was asked to confirm that the promise would be kept and he did. Popular though such a policy would be, it is a horribly retrograde step that will cost the country, and businesses, dear. He should revise GST, which was not, in some detail, properly...

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