Malaysia’s PM says prevented Na­jib from leav­ing coun­try

The Sunday Guardian - - World - REUTERS

Im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties is­sued an overseas travel ban on Na­jib and his wife ear­lier in the day, amid re­ports that the gov­ern­ment was re­open­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions into a multi-bil­lion-dol­lar graft scan­dal at a state fund 1Malaysia Devel­op­ment Ber­had.

The de­ci­sion was an­nounced just min­utes af­ter Na­jib said in a Face­book post that he and his fam­ily were tak­ing a week-long hol­i­day overseas to rest af­ter his thump­ing de­feat in Wed­nes­day’s gen­eral elec­tion.

Ma­hathir also said he had re­placed the coun­try’s at­tor­ney gen­eral, who had cleared Na­jib of all wrong­do­ing in the 1MDB scan­dal.

“We have placed a num­ber of re­stric­tions on cer­tain peo­ple who have been in­volved in wrong­do­ing or mak­ing wrong de­ci­sions,” he said. “So at the mo­ment we no longer have an at­tor­ney-gen­eral.”

He also said he had in­structed that a 1MDB re­port that was clas­si­fied as an of­fi­cial se­cret dur­ing Na­jib’s term be re­leased.

A for­mer prime min­is­ter for 22 years, Ma­hathir re­turned to pol­i­tics af­ter a feud with Na­jib over the 1MDB scan­dal, and teamed up with an op­po­si­tion al­liance in­clud­ing for­mer foe An­war Ibrahim.

An­war, 70 is serv­ing a five-year sen­tence for sodomy, a charge he and his sup­port­ers say was po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated. Ma­hathir has said the king has in­di­cated to him that a royal par­don for An­war would be an­nounced soon.

“This process has cer­tain rules and reg­u­la­tions that we have to ad­here to,” Ma­hathir said.

“So we will ex­pe­dite this as soon as pos­si­ble, for his re­lease and for his par­don. As to his role in the fu­ture, that will be de­ter­mined by the party.” Last week, the United Na­tions urged Myan­mar to take ac­tion against those re­spon­si­ble for the on­go­ing Ro­hingya cri­sis in the coun­try’s Rakhine state. While Myan­mar’s pol­i­tics and State Coun­sel­lor Aung San Suu Kyi’s role have been in­ter­na­tion­ally crit­i­cised, an­other less un­der­stood mys­tery re­mains the jus­ti­fi­ca­tion of vi­o­lence by the clergy of a re­li­gion that was founded on the prin­ci­ples of peace-build­ing. In a con­ver­sa­tion with The Sun­day Guardian, Pro­fes­sor Khin Zaw Rin, direc­tor of the Tam­padipa In­sti­tute, a Yan­gon-based ca­pac­ity-build­ing in­sti­tu­tion, who has also been a po­lit­i­cal pris­oner, a for­mer gov­ern­ment em­ployee with the Min­istry of Health in Myan­mar and a hu­man rights ac­tivist who has been closely work­ing with the Ro­hingya camps, gave a lo­cal’s per­spec­tive of the Ro­hingyas and the pol­i­tics be­hind the is­sue. Ex­cerpts: Q: What is the re­sponse of the com­mon Bud­hhist folk in Myan­mar to­wards the “Ro­hingya cri­sis”? How do they un­der­stand and dis­cuss it in their draw­ing rooms? A: Firstly, “com­mon Bud­dhist folk” are not very in­ter­ested at all in the Ro­hingya is­sue. Se­condly, if they are in­ter­ested, they see it as some­thing con­cern­ing “il­le­gal im­mi­grants”—peo­ple who don’t be­long to Myan­mar. Q: To what do you at­tribute the Bud­dhist clergy’s val­i­da­tion of vi­o­lence against Ro­hingyas? A: Now we are talk­ing about the ex­trem­ist, ul­tra-na­tion­al­ist monks. Po­lit­i­cal monks like Wi­rathu use the Ro­hingya and Mus­lim is­sues as plat­forms of sup­port and to at­tack Suu Kyi. Se­nior, prom­i­nent monks like Sitagu Sayadaw went one step fur­ther and val­i­dated vi­o­lence at a mili­tary train­ing school. By this, he gar­ners the mili­tary’s favour. (He is al­ready per­haps the wealth­i­est monk in Myan­mar). There is very lit­tle “ide­ol­ogy” in all this. It is all about per­sonal and po­lit­i­cal gain. Q. Is the Ro­hingya cri­sis af­fect­ing Aung San Su Kyi’s pop­u­lar­ity in con­text of the up­com­ing elec­tions in Myan­mar? A: Yes and no. She is los­ing po­lit­i­cal sup­port for other rea­sons, but the way she han­dled the Rakhine cri­sis also plays a part. On the other hand, both she and the mili­tary are re­ly­ing on pop­ulism to re­tain pop­u­lar sup­port. The Na­tional League for Democ­racy (NLD) and the mili­tary are seek­ing to outdo each other, and that means nei­ther side can af­ford to be seen as be­ing soft on the Ro­hingyas. That is why the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court (ICC) pro­ceed­ings are so im­por­tant. This is prob­a­bly the only brake we have against the mili­tary and Suu Kyi. Both sides are go­ing to be buf­feted and this is a good op­por­tu­nity for al­ter­na­tive voices and lead­ers to emerge. Q: The UN has sus­pected a geno­cide against Ro­hingyas in Myan­mar and has also sought in­ves­ti­ga­tion, but has not yet sup­ported de­mands to re­fer Myan­mar to the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court. Do you think the UN is in­vested enough in re­solv­ing the Ro­hingya cri­sis? A: I know there are lim­i­ta­tions on what the UN can do. But right now, it is the best hope. The United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil will come up with some­thing strong, but re­mem­ber that the ICC can pro­ceed on its own, and is do­ing so. Re­solv­ing the Ro­hingya cri­sis will re­quire the pool­ing of the re­sources of many stake­hold­ers. We can­not al­low the is­sue to linger as had been the case in the past.

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