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Najib

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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There's history: Malaysia Airlines's fleet used to be almost entirely Boeing. Because there were almost no components common to more than one Boeing model, stocks of parts were enormous and that translated to vast amounts of capital tied up in warehouses. AirAsia, however, like many low-cost airlines, capitalised on the fact that there are many common parts across the Airbus A300 series which means that stock costs (and the space to keep them) can be significantly smaller. Malaysia Airlines began to restructure its fleet. Then, at the height of the 1MDB scandal, the government-linked flag carrier announced it was going to buy Boeing again. And then something interesting happened in the 1MBD investigation in the USA. Current PM Mahathir and his graft-busting team need to take a look at what went on.

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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.

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.

The 1MDB scandal seemingly forgotten in Malaysia, the next order of business is the forthcoming general election. After a budget that dramatically increased funding by taxpayers to various Islamic organisations and religious leaders, Prime Minister Najib's next target the federal territory of Labuan. Labuan has been on the recieving end of federal (i.e. national taxpayers') money before and that hasn't worked out as well as it was hoped - but the island has, so far, not lost faith with the Party. But with a tiny resident population, a small number of electors can swing the vote. With the smallest percentage of Parliament since it began, Najib can't afford ignore even little seats. His promises are interesting.

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