Posted: 07 Aug 2013 03:35 PM PDT
(TMI) - Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first prime minister and the father of the island republic's current prime minister Lee Hsien Loong, launched his latest book "One Man's View Of The World" yesterday.
The 400-page book features conversations in Singapore last year between him and his long-time admirer, Helmut Schmidt, the former chancellor of West Germany. They discussed world affairs.
Lee's comments on Malaysia were particularly scathing, not surprising given his rocky relationship with leaders on this side of the causeway. Singapore was ejected from the Malaysian federation in 1965 by Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first prime minister of Malaysia.
Did Lee Kuan Yew want to rule Malaysia?
Q: Some people have also put forward the view that you and the PAP went into Malaysia harbouríng ambitions of ruling the entire country.
A: That is simply not possible. The demographics would not allow that. What they wanted was for non-Malays to play a secondary role. They had the Malaysian Chinese Association and the Malaysian Indian Congress as partners, holding the loyalty of grassroots leaders in Malaya.
Sabah and Sarawak they could manipulate because the leaders were young, and new. In the midst of the struggle, the Tunku offered to make me the United Nations representative to get me out of the way.
On getting ejected from Malaysia in 1965.
Q: In retrospect, "would you say that you pushed" too hard on Malaysian Malaysia?
A: No. If I had not pushed then, we would be prisoners now.
Is moderate Islam losing its grip on Malaysia?
Q: There is something happening concurrently with the change in ethnic mix, which is that Malaysia is also becoming more rigorously Islamic in its practice.
A: That is part of the influence of the Middle East.
A: You believe that? What do you mean by a progressive Muslim country?
Posted: 07 Aug 2013 02:31 PM PDT
Leslie Lopez, The Edge
SOMETIME in September 2009, currency traders at Bank Negara Malaysia were jolted by huge purchases of US dollars in the domestic currency market and quickly decided to halt the selling pressure on the local currency. They were promptly told to stand down by their superiors.
The buildup of US dollar positions on that day paved the way for state-owned 1 Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) to move US$1 billion out of the country for an investment in a British Virgin Islands entity.
These days, 1MDB isn't just raising eyebrows. The secretive investment arm of the government is sending shockwaves through international bond markets and raising concern at home with its aggressive borrowings, opaque financial manoeuvres and risky bets. It is also becoming a hot political potato for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's administration.
Opposition politicians insist that 1MDB is part strategic investment arm and part political slush fund for the Najib government, because of its generous financial handouts to key constituencies of the ruling Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition.
The officials insist that the Cayman Islands investment is safe and a planned listing of the group's power-generation assets, set for sometime in the first half of next year, is expected to raise close to RM5 billion and strengthen its financial position.
Malaysia has consistently run budget deficits since the currency crisis that struck the region in mid-1997. That, in turn, has raised the nation's accumulated public debt, which currently stands at 53% of the country's gross domestic product — the highest among the 10-member Asean.
The ratio of debt-to-GDP is a broad measure of the health of an economy and Malaysia has a self-imposed ceiling of 55%. The problem, say private economists, is that the ratio doesn't take into account liabilities of state-linked enterprises such as 1MDB, which have been on a borrowing binge to fund development activities.
The following account of 1MDB's rise from a secretive state-owned strategic investment fund to one of Malaysia's most debt-laden entities is based on documents reviewed by The Edge Review and interviews with dozens of bankers, financial consultants and government officials over the last four years.
Seeds of 1MDB were sown in early 2009, when businessman Low Taek Jho, who enjoys close relations with Prime Minister Najib, mooted the idea of creating a fund to manage the resources of the northeastern Terengganu state in Peninsular Malaysia.
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