Mahathir seeks house vote to challenge new PM’s support

Mahathir seeks house vote to challenge new PM’s support
Muhyiddin Yassin waves outside his residence in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday before his swearing-in ceremony as Malaysia’s new leader. (AFP)
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Updated 02 March 2020

Mahathir seeks house vote to challenge new PM’s support

Mahathir seeks house vote to challenge new PM’s support
  • Yassin sworn in as prime minister as Malaysia grapples with new reality

KUALA LUMPUR: Muhyiddin Yassin was sworn in as Malaysia’s new prime minister on Sunday, replacing 94-year-old Mahathir Mohamad after an intense week of political wrangling in the country.

It follows Mahathir’s unexpected resignation from top office last week, leading the king to step in to ensure stability.
Yassin, who is the head of the Malaysian United Indigenous Party (Bersatu), was administered the oath of office by the king on Sunday, in an appointment described by Mahathir as “illegal and a betrayal.”
At the Bersatu meeting in Putrajaya on Sunday, Mahathir told party supporters that Yassin was a “traitor” for his willingness to work with disgraced former prime minister, Najib Razak, who is embroiled in the billion-dollar 1MDB corruption scandal.
The entire conversation was live streamed on the National Trust Party’s (Amanah) official Facebook page.
“Muhyiddin was willing to help because he wanted to be prime minister,” Mahathir said, vowing to seek a vote in parliament to challenge Yassin’s support.
The trouble began when Mahathir returned to power two years ago in a coalition with his old rival, Anwar Ibrahim, and ousted Razak in a surprise victory.
The move, however, backfired with Anwar deciding to run for prime minister.
Supporters from the Alliance of Hope (Alliance) and the public are still grappling with the new reality, with some activists and protesters holding a demonstration in Kuala Lumpur to express their dissatisfaction.

BACKGROUND

Muhyiddin Yassin, who is the head of the Malaysian United Indigenous Party, was administered the oath of office by the king on Sunday, in an appointment described by Mahathir as ‘illegal and a betrayal.’

At the Peoples Justice Party (PKR) headquarters on Sunday, a couple of politicians were heckled by a group of PKR supporters for siding with factions that colluded with the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) and the Malaysia Islamic Party (PAS).
Yassin, 72, will face a huge challenge as he enters office in Putrajaya on Monday.
Though a veteran politician, the Alliance would push back harder knowing that their opportunity to govern was short-lived.
Adip Zalkapli, director of Bower Group Asia, told Arab News: “The next general election will likely be held in less than three years from today; the Alliance would do well as they will learn from their mistakes and make early preparation for the polls.”
“The best thing for the National Front Coalition (BN) and Bersatu is for them to be magnanimous in their victory and retain as much as possible positive elements left behind by the Alliance’s administration,” he said.
The new premier is expected to consolidate power in the government with UMNO and PAS.
Analysts worry that this would have a deep impact on the Southeast Asian country, which prides itself on being a cultural melting pot, with 40 percent of its population from ethnic minorities.
“This may end the promise by the Alliance of a multiracial, multireligious malaysia,” Professor James Chin, director of the Asia Institute of Tasmania University, said, adding that both UMNO and PAS “do not believe this and will push the country toward a Malay-Islamic supremacy.”
He said that PAS and UMNO would demand power within the Cabinet, since “the reality is that PAS and UMNO combo have the biggest bloc in new government.”
Chin said that the Islamic party will push for more conservative Islamic values in the government’s policies, and for moral-based laws, especially against women, and those they deem “liberals.”
“UMNO will go along as they think it’s a winning formula for the next general election,” he said.
As the country grapples with the global coronavirus outbreak and a sluggish economy, analysts said that Malaysia will face economic instability as it moves ahead.
“It will be hard as the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and foreign visitors would be afraid of PAS’s Islamic hard-line policy,” Chin said.
“There is still market instability,” Dr. Madeline Berma, fellow at the Academy of Sciences Malaysia, said, adding that the market will choose to “wait-and-see until after parliament convenes.”


US gun lobby NRA declares bankruptcy, plans to incorporate in Texas

US gun lobby NRA declares bankruptcy, plans to incorporate in Texas
Updated 31 min ago

US gun lobby NRA declares bankruptcy, plans to incorporate in Texas

US gun lobby NRA declares bankruptcy, plans to incorporate in Texas
  • NRA execs are facing charges of illegally diverting funds for lavish personal trips and other questionable expenditures
  • New York Attorney General Letitia James said she would not allow the NRA to “evade accountability” or oversight

AUSTIN, Texas: The National Rifle Association announced Friday it has filed for bankruptcy protection and will seek to incorporate the nation’s most politically influential gun-rights group in Texas instead of New York.
The announcement came months after New York’s attorney general sued the organization over claims that top executives illegally diverted tens of millions of dollars for lavish personal trips, no-show contracts for associates and other questionable expenditures.
The coronavirus pandemic has also upended the NRA, which last year laid off dozens of employees. The group canceled its national convention and scuttled fundraising. The NRA’s bankruptcy filing listed between $100 million and $500 million in assets and between $100 million and $500 million in liabilities. Still, the NRA claimed in announcing the move that the organization was “in its strongest financial condition in years.”
The NRA filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in federal court in Dallas and said it planned to incorporate in Texas, where records show it formed a limited liability corporation, Sea Girt LLC, in November 2020. Sea Girt LLC made a separate bankruptcy filing Friday, listing fewer than $100,000 in liabilities.
In its filing, the NRA said its longtime leader, Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, made the decision to file for bankruptcy protection in consultation with a “special litigation committee” comprised of three NRA officials that was formed in September to oversee its legal strategies. The NRA board voted Jan. 7 to clarify LaPierre’s employment agreement, giving him the power to “reorganize or restructure the affairs” of the organization.

National Rifle Association executive Wayne LaPierre and other officials of the gun lobby are facing charges of diverting the gun lobby's money for lavish personal expenses. (AFP file photo)

“The move will enable long-term, sustainable growth and ensure the NRA’s continued success as the nation’s leading advocate for constitutional freedom – free from the toxic political environment of New York,” the NRA said in a statement.
A message seeking comment was left with a Dallas lawyer who made the bankruptcy filings on behalf of the NRA and Sea Girt LLC.
Shortly after the announcement, New York Attorney General Letitia James said she would not allow the NRA to “evade accountability” or oversight. Her office’s lawsuit last year highlighted misspending and self-dealing claims that have roiled the NRA and LaPierre in recent years— from hair and makeup for his wife to a $17 million post-employment contract for himself.
“The NRA’s claimed financial status has finally met its moral status: bankrupt,” James said.
The gun-rights group boasts about 5 million members. Though headquartered in Virginia, the NRA was chartered as a nonprofit in New York in 1871 and is incorporated in the state. Going forward, the NRA said a committee will study opportunities to relocate segments of its operations to Texas and elsewhere.
The NRA’s largest creditor, owed $1.2 million, is Ackerman McQueen, which is the group’s former advertising agency that was behind the now-shuttered NRA TV service. The NRA sued the Oklahoma-based company in 2019, alleging it was being overbilled and said in Friday’s bankruptcy filing that the debt it is owed is disputed. The lawsuit is pending. A message seeking comment was left with Ackerman McQueen.
In the New York lawsuit, Ackerman McQueen was accused of aiding lavish spending by LaPierre and other NRA executives by picking up the tab and then sending a lump sum bill to the organization for “out-of-pocket expenses.”
“No financial filing can ever shroud the moral bankruptcy of Wayne LaPierre and his wife and their lap dogs on the NRA board,” said Bill Powers, an Ackerman McQueen spokesperson and former public affairs director for the NRA.
Court records also show more than $960,000 owed to Membership Marketing Partners LLC, a firm that lists its headquarters at the same address as the NRA. Another $200,000 is owed to Speedway Motorsports, the North Carolina-based company that owns and operates NASCAR tracks, according to the records.
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott quickly welcomed the news, tweeting: “Welcome to Texas — a state that safeguards the 2nd Amendment.” The NRA said it has more than 400,000 members in Texas and plans to hold its annual convention in Houston later this year.