JAKARTA – A businessman alleged to have aided Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak siphon millions from a state development fund has fled the country as an Interpol warrant was issued for his arrest. Mr Najib, who has pleaded not guilty to three counts of criminal breach of trust and one of abuse of power, is alleged to been involved in the laundering of millions from the state fund he established – 1MDB. Malaysian authorities said that Jho Low, a financier who US prosecutors claim was a central figure in the looting of the fund, had fled the country.
RANGOON – Aung San Suu Kyi’s chances of becoming president dimmed yesterday after she lost her struggle to break the dominance of Burma’s military establishment. Supporters of the democracy activist failed to muster enough votes, despite three days of debate in Naypyidaw, to pass an amendment that would remove a clause that is, in effect, a military veto on new legislation. The army will now almost certainly continue its dominance over politics into the next parliament. Ms Suu Kyi, 70, a Nobel peace prize winner who spent 15 years as a political prisoner, is by far Burma’s most popular politician, and can expect to win an overwhelming victory in this year’s general election.
PHNOM PENH — Asia’s longest-standing leader was re-elected yesterday, but with a significantly reduced majority amid widespread allegations of dirty tricks. Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party won 68 out of 123 seats — according to early projections — 22 fewer than at the last election, and a big advance for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). It represents a relative victory for the CNRP’s popular leader, Sam Rainsy, who returned from exile nine days before the election, too late either to vote or stand as a candidate. Early reports suggested that the election was mostly conducted peacefully, although there was a stream of reports of irregularities. Even before the polls opened, the Opposition said that voter registration procedures were badly flawed, leaving as many as a million people disenfranchised.
CHIANG MAI — The Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is raising political funds from some of her country’s most notorious crony businessmen, in the latest in a series of controversies surrounding the former political prisoner. Ms Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), has admitted receiving hundreds of thousands of pounds from companies owned by the reviled bosses, who amassed fortunes through their close relationships with the brutal junta that controlled Burma for almost 50 years.