No UNESCO award for Malaysia PM’s wife amid confusion

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rosmah_najib
Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak with his wife Rosmah Mansor

The United Nations, through its UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), will not hand over a “Lead by Example” award that was reportedly planned to be received by Rosmah Mansor, the wife of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, because 1) there is no such UNESCO award and 2) the real awarding organisation withdrew the honour in the last minute in the wake of the 1MDB scandal.

Malaysia’s official state news agency Bernama on September 18 reported that Permata, a children’s welfare group in Malaysia founded by Rosmah, had been selected to receive UNESCO’s “Lead by Example” award. The report said she was slated to be given the award in New York in the Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 22 at an event in conjunction with the 71st UN General Assembly which is currently being held.

The agency referred to statements by Education Ministry Secretary-General Alias Ahmad, who is also Malaysian National Commission for UNESCO Vice-President. Ahmad emphasised that the award was being “conferred in recognition of Rosmah’s efforts in developing the potential of children,” adding that it also was an “honour for Malaysia.”

But in fact, the organiser of the event, Antiquities Coalition, an non-governmental organisation (NGO) that focuses on preventing illegal antiquities trade as a source of finance for extremist groups, said the award had nothing to do with UNESCO.

“Contrary to erroneous reports, the event is not a UNESCO event, nor is UNESCO giving the award,” Andy Beck, the spokesperson for Antiquities Coalition, clarified.

The only connection with UNESCO is that the event is co-hosted by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, which probably was the reason for the confusion.

However, following the inaccurate Bernama report, Antiquities Coalition said it had been quizzed by the media about the sources of funding for Permata, but said it neither had the time nor the means of verifying the funding for the organisation, and although it was not aware of any specific wrongdoing, it decided to withdrew the award for Rosmah.

“We do not wish this important event to be dominated by anything other than the issue of how to mobilise and unite people in the fight against violent extremism,” a statement said, adding that “the academic committee has therefore decided that it requires more time to review the comments that have been received, and it has removed Permata from the list of honourees.”

The NGO’s main concerns are obviously over the problem that Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s wider family is mired in corruption allegations and Rosmah is well-known for her lavish spending sprees with money from unclear sources. Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal wrote that Rosmah Mansor apparently had clocked up at least $6 million in credit card charges on shopping in designer stores worldwide between 2008 and 2015, despite having no income on her own and her husband only receiving an official annual salary of $100,000.

The couple’s family and close friends are at the center of a US Department of Justice lawsuit that alleges that $1 billion in assets – including a $30.6 million penthouse at the Time Warner Center in New York and a $39 million mansion in the Los Angeles hills – were bought with public money stolen from Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). The lawsuit also claims that Najib had $681 million from 1MDB moved through his personal accounts, but the prime minister repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

 

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[caption id="attachment_28961" align="alignleft" width="300"] Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak with his wife Rosmah Mansor[/caption] The United Nations, through its UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), will not hand over a "Lead by Example" award that was reportedly planned to be received by Rosmah Mansor, the wife of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, because 1) there is no such UNESCO award and 2) the real awarding organisation withdrew the honour in the last minute in the wake of the 1MDB scandal. Malaysia's official state news agency Bernama on September 18 reported that Permata, a children’s welfare group in Malaysia founded...

Reading Time: 2 minutes

rosmah_najib
Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak with his wife Rosmah Mansor

The United Nations, through its UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), will not hand over a “Lead by Example” award that was reportedly planned to be received by Rosmah Mansor, the wife of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, because 1) there is no such UNESCO award and 2) the real awarding organisation withdrew the honour in the last minute in the wake of the 1MDB scandal.

Malaysia’s official state news agency Bernama on September 18 reported that Permata, a children’s welfare group in Malaysia founded by Rosmah, had been selected to receive UNESCO’s “Lead by Example” award. The report said she was slated to be given the award in New York in the Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 22 at an event in conjunction with the 71st UN General Assembly which is currently being held.

The agency referred to statements by Education Ministry Secretary-General Alias Ahmad, who is also Malaysian National Commission for UNESCO Vice-President. Ahmad emphasised that the award was being “conferred in recognition of Rosmah’s efforts in developing the potential of children,” adding that it also was an “honour for Malaysia.”

But in fact, the organiser of the event, Antiquities Coalition, an non-governmental organisation (NGO) that focuses on preventing illegal antiquities trade as a source of finance for extremist groups, said the award had nothing to do with UNESCO.

“Contrary to erroneous reports, the event is not a UNESCO event, nor is UNESCO giving the award,” Andy Beck, the spokesperson for Antiquities Coalition, clarified.

The only connection with UNESCO is that the event is co-hosted by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, which probably was the reason for the confusion.

However, following the inaccurate Bernama report, Antiquities Coalition said it had been quizzed by the media about the sources of funding for Permata, but said it neither had the time nor the means of verifying the funding for the organisation, and although it was not aware of any specific wrongdoing, it decided to withdrew the award for Rosmah.

“We do not wish this important event to be dominated by anything other than the issue of how to mobilise and unite people in the fight against violent extremism,” a statement said, adding that “the academic committee has therefore decided that it requires more time to review the comments that have been received, and it has removed Permata from the list of honourees.”

The NGO’s main concerns are obviously over the problem that Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s wider family is mired in corruption allegations and Rosmah is well-known for her lavish spending sprees with money from unclear sources. Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal wrote that Rosmah Mansor apparently had clocked up at least $6 million in credit card charges on shopping in designer stores worldwide between 2008 and 2015, despite having no income on her own and her husband only receiving an official annual salary of $100,000.

The couple’s family and close friends are at the center of a US Department of Justice lawsuit that alleges that $1 billion in assets – including a $30.6 million penthouse at the Time Warner Center in New York and a $39 million mansion in the Los Angeles hills – were bought with public money stolen from Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). The lawsuit also claims that Najib had $681 million from 1MDB moved through his personal accounts, but the prime minister repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

 

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