malaysia

The Worldwide Impact of 1MDB

A bit late on this article, but Michael Peel and Jeevan Vasagar at The Financial TImes write about the ever-growing global fallout and implications of the Malaysian government’s failed 1MDB “sovereign wealth fund”:

It is not just a matter of domestic politics. The impact of the cases is being felt way beyond Malaysia’s borders due to the amount of money allegedly involved and its scope. The parties said to be affected include foreign officials, leading banks and offshore financial centres, with transactions stretching from Kuala Lumpur to the Cayman Islands and from Abu Dhabi to New York.

1MDB has become a test of regulators’ ability, and desire, to penetrate a web of dealings that take full advantage of the privacy and cross-border complexity available in the global financial system. It is also being seen as a measure of how well authorities deal with cases of suspected grand corruption.

Honestly at this point I just wish Malaysia wasn’t only well-known for global calamities. Before, no one I talked to in the States even knew what Malaysia was. Now, when I tell someone I’m from Malaysia the usual response is “oh, isn’t that where that plane disappeared?” (and then the inevitable “do you know where it is?” Yeah, because clearly all Malaysians have been hiding this secret for the last couple years…)

Malaysian Turtle Eggs

A few years ago, I went with my family to Pulau Tioman, a resort island off the coast of West Malaysia. It was an idyllic trip with lots of fish, coral, and pearly beaches, but there was this one incident that I still remember clearly to this day.

There was a small island where turtles frequently came to lay their eggs, and while we were exploring its beaches, we noticed our guide digging through the sand. He had found some turtle eggs, and proceeded to put them into a plastic bucket. On the boat, my sister and I confronted him and asked him what he was going to do with the eggs. “Oh, I’m just going to bring them to the hatchery,” he replied, and we having no evidence to the contrary, dropped the issue. But I always had my doubts and wondered if he had taken them for sale or his own consumption.

So when Sabahan Rural and Regional Development Minister **Ismail Sabri Yaakob** was photographed eating turtle eggs at a banquet, I was not surprised. Rather, my thoughts drifted back to that beach, and I pray that those eggs weren’t taken for someone’s dinner table.

A Poignant Moment in a Sad Place

On a small hill over looking the valley of the town in Rinau (somewhat near the mountain of Kota Kinabalu) is a memorial to the 2,000+ Australian and British POWs who perished on the death marches from Sandakan to Rinau – a distance of over 250 kilometers. The Japanese soldiers were exceedingly heartless and brutal in their treatment of these brave soldiers, and for their courage and perseverance in the face of such inhumanity. Unfortunately, all but six of them died before the Japanese finally surrendered.

The sad thing, however, was that many visitors to the gardens were disgustingly rowdy – screaming and yelling, clambering to take pictures of themselves (accompanied by the now-ubiquitous peace sign) by the plaques and flowers, seemingly uncaring for the fact that this is a place of somber reflection on the depraved things humans do to one another and a site where hopes for the betterment of humanity may be made – sincere wishes that never again will such atrocities be committed.

To so flippantly treat such a hallowed ground is to callously disregard the valiant sacrifice these soldiers made for democracy and freedom.