Tue, May 01, 2018 - Page 5 News List

Malaysians poke fun at scandal with ‘Kleptopoly’ game


Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism staff members play the Kleptopoly board game at their office in Petaling Jaya, near Kuala Lumpur, on April 17.

Photo: AFP

A Malaysian board game based on Monopoly is taking aim at the massive 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal ahead of elections, featuring a motley crew of figures central to the controversy and items allegedly bought with looted money.

Designed by an anti-graft watchdog, Kleptopoly sees players move tokens around a board and pick up high-end real estate, with the richest — but least corrupt — participant declared the winner at the end.

The US Department of Justice claims that US$4.5 billion was looted from 1MDB, which was founded by Prime Minister Najib Razak, by officials at the state fund and their associates in a campaign of fraud and money laundering.

Najib and the fund deny any wrongdoing.

The scandal is in sharp focus as Malaysians gear up for a general election on Wednesday next week, with Najib facing a tough fight to extend his ruling coalition’s six decades in power.

“We hope that people do play the game, and talk about these issues ahead of the upcoming elections,” said Ho Yi Jian, from the Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism, which produced Kleptopoly.

The traditional tokens used in Monopoly are replaced with cartoon-like characters that resemble figures linked to the 1MDB scandal.

There is a man with a briefcase stuffed full of money called “Malaysian Official 1” — a figure referred to in lawsuits by the US Justice Department as having allegedly received large sums of 1MDB money.

A Malaysian minister has confirmed that that official was Najib.

Then there is “Mr Klepto,” a chubby man wielding a large wad of cash who resembles jet-setting Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho (劉特佐), also known as Jho Low, an unofficial adviser to 1MDB who has been at the center of the scandal. He denies any wrongdoing.

The properties up for grabs in the game include real estate in New York and Los Angeles that the US claims were bought with money looted from 1MDB.

There is also the luxury yacht Equanimity, which the US Justice Department says was bought by Low with 1MDB cash.

The yacht was seized off the Indonesian island of Bali in February, but a court last week ordered authorities to release it, citing missteps by police.

Despite its name, Ho said Kleptopoly does not encourage players to act like kleptocrats, but rather to be corruption-free — if there is evidence of graft, the player gets sent to jail.

“It’s okay to be rich,” Ho said. “You’ve just got to do it in a clean way.”

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