Another must-see film for Malaysians – “The Kleptocrats’: sombre reminder that May 9, 2018 saved Malaysia from becoming Venezuela of South-east Asia
Two films every Malaysian should see are “M for Malaysia” and “The Kleptocrats -Billion Dollar Whale” to learn or to be reminded of the existential threat Malaysia faced during the 14th General Election.
If there had been no historic and miraculous change of government on May 9, 2018, Malaysia would have continued in the trajectory pursued for close to a decade to become a failed, rogue and kleptocratic state, and no power on earth could have saved future generations of Malaysians, regardless of race or religion, from the status of serfs in having to repay the tens and hundreds of billions of debt conceived and implemented by “maestros” of unimaginable scams and money-laundering schemes to exploit the loopholes of the international banking and financial system.
If there had been no change of government, the re-elected Prime Minister would have made Malaysia the Venezuela of South-east Asia and the Sick Man of Asia.
Venezuela is in the thick of a terrible political, socio-economic and humanitarian crisis. Once one of the 20 richest countries in the world and the richest in Latin America with free education and free medical services for her citizens, it is now poor, backward, broken and bankrupt state, with over 10 per cent of Venezuelans (3.4 million) having left the country in despair.
The humanitarian crisis in Venezuela has affected the life of the average Venezuelan on all levels. By 2017, hunger had escalated to the point where almost seventy-five percent of the population had lost an average of over 8 kg (over 19 lbs) in weight, and more than half did not have enough income to meet their basic food needs.
The ”Sick Man of Asia” was previously referred to China. But in the past 40 years of economic reform, the World Bank estimates that China has lifted 850 million people out of poverty while its per capita GDP grew by nearly 24 times from 1978 to 2017.
If there had been no change of government on May 9, 2018, we would be steaming ahead to become the Sick Man of Asia by 2030 or 2040, and there would be even more imaginative and creative 2MDB, 3MDB or 4MDB scandals to shock the global political landscape.
The film “The Kleptocrats”, which I saw on the iwonder programme, offers various vignettes of the heroes and heroines, both in Malaysia and worldwide, who had played important roles in the expose of what the US Attorney-General has described as “kleptocracy at its worst”, notably:
- The film opens up with a Red Granite party at the Cannes Film Festival 2011, where Jho Low, the present fugitive from international justice, made his appearance, and the party was so lavish and grand where “a million dollars burnt right here” that it raised the question: “Who are these guys who shot up out of nowhere really.”
- The investigation by New York Times reporter Louis Strong beginning in Feb. 2013 on the “illicit money coming into the United States through high-end real estate through shell companies where the owners could be hidden” which led her to Riza Aziz, and the film “Wolf in Wall Street”, Red Granite and two-headed investigations into Jho Low and Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak; the 1MDB scandal and her stakeout at Mandarin Oriental Hotel at Time Warner Centre in New York in Sept. 2014 when both Najib and Jho Low were in the city.
- The November 2012 US$100 million birthday party of Jho Low, described as the “most expensive party Las Vegas has even seen” which would finally be paid by Malaysian taxpayers.
- The poignant statements by Nazir Najib, brother of Najib Razak, of how he got hold of his other brothers, met Najib and told him that they were very concerned about the 1MDB, why it was not subject to the same oversight as the rest of government companies and how it somewhat conflicted with the values of their father, second Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Razak – public service, integrity, frugality; and how Najib promised he would look into the matter and would fix any shortcomings in the 1MDB but did not.
- Najib’s insistence of “good governance” as his only response on the day the Wall Street Journal published the shocking report that RM2.6 billion had been deposited into Najib’s personal accounts on May 2013.
- The sudden clampdown on 1MDB investigations and the Week of Long Knives in July 2015 where Muhyiddin Yassin was sacked as Deputy Prime Minister, Shafie Apdal as Minister for Regional and Rural Development, Gani Patail as Attorney-General followed by a “reign of terror” in the AG office, the Police, the MACC and Bank Negara.
- The telephone call by a Hollywood Reporter journalist from the Cannes Film Festival 2016 to the then DAP MP for Petaling Jaya Utara, Tony Pua, in Malaysia, and was told that Tony’s passport had been impounded and could not leave the country for being a threat to parliamentary democracy for his steadfast expose of the 1MDB scandal, since his first parliamentary question on the subject in March 2010.
There is deep and widespread disappointment and disillusionment that after more than 500 days, there are no visible signs of a New Malaysia.
It is important that Malaysians must be able to understand that while the Pakatan Harapan Government has to deal with an unexpectedly huge legacy of liabilities and debts, the government is still on track to build a New Malaysia to become a top world-class nation of unity, justice, freedom, excellence and integrity.
The last thing Malaysians want is to see the country becoming a Venezuela during the time of their children and grandchildren in 2030 or 2040. Or an even worse fate.