By Murray Hunter
(This article was first published on Murray Hunter’s website on 5 February)
Avoiding foreign financial compromise in Malaysia
The announcement that Nurul Izzah Anwar was appointed in January as a senior economic advisor to her father, prime minister Anwar Ibrahim on a pro bono basis, is not as altruistic as has been made out.
Nurul must tend to her private and family expenses each month, which would accumulate into a small fortune for the average person, on an annual basis. Its almost certain Nurul will not be running down her personal savings to pursue this job. Someone must be making a financial contribution to support her employment.
This is where the problem lies. Who is this contributor? Is the contributor, a person, an organization, a corporation, or a criminal? Is this person or organization Malaysian, or foreign?
Rather than Nurul feel deeply obligated to any donor, its best the taxpayer foot Nurul’s salary to prevent any obligation to a third party. This prevents any perceived conflict of interest, and to ensure Nurul is not compromised in any work and decisions she makes. This is particularly important if she is working on national contracts, as her father mentioned in the media.
Much broader issue of foreign influence
This brings up a much broader issue in Malaysian society. There is much foreign influence in the affairs of the nation.
For some time, former prime minister Najib Razak claimed that the hundreds of millions of Ringgit in his bank account, was the result of a donation from a Saudi Prince. This is even more alarming, than the money coming from public coffers. Theft is theft, but the influence of foreign leaders on Malaysian affairs is both a breach of national security and sovereignty. As it turned out the money came from theft.
Imagine a Malaysian prime minister with a moral and monetary obligation towards a leader of a foreign power. This is a grave conflict of interest and compromise of the nation.
Thus in Nurul’s case, the issue of where she is receiving money from is an issue of national security. Since she is working in a public office handling classified material, there must be transparency. This is far from a cashier’s job at a local pasaraya.
Foreign influence in Malaysia
A major Saudi Arabian tool is influence is through an organization called the ‘Alumni’, funded primarily through Saudi foundations. According to Ulama Engkau Ahmad Fadzil, the ‘Alumni’ is made up of a group of graduates from local, UK, Saudi Arabian, and Jordanian universities, who return home and join the civil service, armed forces, police, religious organizations, schools, and universities. Some are in prominent positions, where they now dominate Fatwa Councils, JAKIM, and state religious organizations.
PAS is not exempt. The donors to PAS also come from the Islamic world. Donations come in from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP.
The cold war in Malaysia
Malaysia is very much part of the dark cold war theatre of South-East Asia. China and the United States are competing for primacy of the region, where Malaysia is a pawn in this game.
The CCP United Front is long established in Malaysia. The United Front has a formal relationship with the MCA, where the United Front is funding many MCA allied community, cultural, and business organizations.
There are currently five Confucius Institutes housed in Malaysian universities. These institutes promote Chinese culture, language, and the Chinese world view. Many young Chinese Malaysians have been strongly influenced by studies at these institutes, and see China as a success role model, and source of inspiration. Their personal orientations are orientated towards China, seeing China as their true home.
Confucius institutes have been the criticized for undertaking espionage to uncover research, surveillance of the Chinese diaspora in Malaysia, and undertake opposition towards anti-Chinese views. It is also believed clandestine police stations are operating in Malaysia.
Influence building is not just coming from the Chinese. The United States has been conducting influence programs in Malaysia for decades.
One prime organization is the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), with close linkages to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The NED has been regularly funding a number of Malaysian NGOs, which include KOMAS, IDEAS, the Merdeka Centre, and C4 Centre.
For the sake of transparency, and avoidance of any claims of conflict of interest, the sources of Nurul’s funding must be made public.
(The views expressed are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of Rebuilding Malaysia.)
Murray Hunter is a retired professor, and professional runner, who spent the last 30 years in South East Asia, as an entrepreneur, consultant, academic, author and researcher, whose speciality is in community development and biotechnology.