‘Hope Coin’: The Story of Malaysia’s Crypto Political Fundraising Platform
(Source: cointelegraph.com)

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(Original link: cointelegraph.com)

Kirill Bryanov ‘Hope Coin’: The Story of Malaysia’s Crypto Political Fundraising Platform Crypto fundraising might be a great tool to fight corrupt regimes, but what happens when freedom fighters seize power? An ICO that was designed to fund Malaysian political opposition is now striving for official status 265 Total views 93 Total shares Analysis The ongoing controversy surrounding Malaysia’s proposed political cryptocurrency, Harapan Coin, is far from letting up. On Nov. 26, the country’s finance minister, Lim Guan Eng, weighed in on the issue by reiterating that any entity looking to issue a cryptocurrency should first refer to Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and the Securities Commission: “Don’t do it without Bank Negara’s guidelines or directive on the matter to avoid doing something wrong and against the law.” During the same press conference, Lim Guan Eng also said that he had asked a government official — who has recently made a series of statements in support of the project — to tone down the promotional campaign until the financial authorities comes up with a coherent regulatory framework. The turbulence around the proposed asset, which is touted by its creators as “the world's first political fundraising platform,” has been heightening throughout the last few weeks, as many of Malaysia’s prominent political actors voiced their doubts and concerns with regard to the project. Meanwhile, many aspects of Harapan Coin’s provenance and functionality remain opaque to the public. Backstory Since the proclamation of Malaya's independence in 1957 and until May 2018, a single political power — a coalition called Barisan Nasional (BN) — has been at the helm of the country’s government. Its three major member organizations represent Malaysia’s dominant ethnic groups: UMNO (United Malays National Organisation) is a party of the Malay majority, while Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) and Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) are the political bodies of the country’s Indian and Chinese communities, respectively. The last decade saw BN’s political dominance erode, due in no small way to a series of devastating financial and political scandals that shook the highest tiers of the government. Perhaps the most notorious of those is the still ongoing 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal. In 2015, it was revealed that, as a result of a large-scale, multi-year embezzlement scheme, hundreds of millions of dollars have been siphoned off from the state-owned investment fund 1MBD into bank accounts associated with Prime Minister Najib Razak of Barisan Nasional. Egregious as it is, this embarrassing episode of high-ranking officials abusing public funds is anything but unusual for Malaysia’s recent history. Before 1MDB, there was the Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) forex scandal , in which the lack of oversight over the central bank’s adventurous trading activities resulted in the nation’s loss of billions of dollars. Before the BNM forex wreck, there was the Bumiputera Malaysia Finance (BMF) flop, which involved a Hong Kong subsidiary of a Malaysian state-owned bank generously handing out impressive amounts of money in bad credits to Hong Kong-based property speculators. Long story short, there appears to be pattern indicating a persistent problem with the way Malaysian officials handle public funds — a problem big enough for blockchain-minded people to start thinking of a solution. Taking on the unjust power of ill-gotten money in Malaysian politics has become the central idea behind the new Harapan Coin (literally,“Hope Coin”), conceived sometime in early 2017. Setting their sights on the 14th Malaysian General Election, scheduled for May 2018, the coin’s creators proclaimed it “The World’s First Crypto-Politic ICO” and marketed it as a means of funding the united opposition to Barisan Nasional. The manifesto — found on the coin’s website — presented the group behind the project as “patriotic and concerned Malaysian citizens, within and outside of Malaysia.” Several personal accounts by backers from outside of the country featured stories of them not being able to contribute to previous campaigns due to the obstacles created by the allegedly BN-controlled Malaysian financial authorities. The identities of the people working on Harapan Coin have been concealed all along, citing “the Draconian laws of limiting and non-respecting [sic] individual rights to freedom of expression of the current BN government,” the website contains only their first names, blurred pictures and locations in countries outside Malaysia. The project’s website offers a mix of inspirational language, suggesting its role in advancing a much-needed political change —“a beacon of hope to supporters seeking a better future”— with some more pragmatic and profit-minded considerations —“Coin[s] collected are expected to rise in price. […] Buy into a new change, invest in a new era of democracy.” The website also explicitly stated that the coin had the “potential to...

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