May 20, 2018

Malaysia ETF Surges as Mahathir Takes Office

15 May 2018, 07:25 | Taylor George

Malaysia aviation regulator denies pressure to cancel AirAsia flights

Malaysia's newly elected Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad attends a news conference in Menara Yayasan Selangor Pataling Jaya

Mahathir and Anwar (a jailed reformist) won the general election last week.

A royal pardon would reverse Anwar's conviction and make him eligible to actively participate in politics.

When Mahathir was prime minister in the 1990s, Anwar was his deputy and clear heir-apparent.

Mahathir was asked in an interview by video link whether a deal could be cut with Najib, who is alleged to have overseen the looting of government investment fund 1MDB.

On the whereabouts of controversial businessman Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, the Prime Minister said tongue-in-cheek that "we roughly know where he is".

The pardons board in Malaysia's capital will meet this week to discuss Anwar's release and Mahathir said he would be released the same day.

"I'm not in a rush", Anwar was quoted as saying. He added that he would make the final decision about cabinet posts.

Anwar was freed in 2004 but in 2015, he was jailed again - for five years - for sodomizing a former aide, a charge he and his supporters describe as a politically motivated attempt by Najib to end his career.

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A popular Islamic student leader, Anwar joined the ruling Malay party in 1982, a year after Mahathir became prime minister.

But in 1998, they disagreed on how to tackle the Asian financial crisis and fell out.

"We will divulge the evidences and facts to the appropriate authorities at the right time", AirAsia said in a statement.

1MDB is now under worldwide probes in at least six countries, including Switzerland and Singapore, over charges of money laundering and bribery. The fund was set up by Najib in 2009 to promote economic development but accumulated billions in debt.

He said: "The rakyat was overjoyed and unfortunately that put me under more pressure when it was realised by the government that we were ferrying so many voters".

Apandi - who has ties to the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the main party in the BN coalition - came to office after Najib sacked the previous attorney general, who was believed to be aggressively investigating the matter.

The U.S. Justice Department says stolen 1MDB money was laundered through the U.S., Singapore, Switzerland and other countries, of which some $700 million landed in Najib's bank account. He has also ordered the attorney general who cleared Najib of any wrongdoing in 2016 to go on leave pending an investigation, while the head of the anti-graft body has resigned.

The stock market opened for the first time since Wednesday's polls but did not slide as heavily as had been anticipated after Mahathir sought in a weekend speech to calm investors. Najib has said the deposit was a donation by an unnamed member of the Saudi royal family which had been largely returned.

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