Thursday, June 2, 2011

Show your passport if you did not travel with Altantuya and Baginda, Najib told

UPDATED PKR has accused Prime Minister Najib Razak of being the 'Male Y' equivalent in the Altantuya murder and submarines kickbacks scandal, daring him to show his passport if he had not travelled overseas with the slain Mongolian translator and his best friend Razak Baginda.

"One of them is already dead, one has been charged in court. One more is still alive and could be holding a high position. We don't know, but we will know when the trial starts," warned PKR secretary general Saifuddin Nasution during a press conference on Thursday.

Najib and Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim have been arch enemies since their days in ruling party UMNO. Anwar has accused Najib of trying to trip him with a fabricated sodomy charge even though the evidence produced so far has been flimsy.

One of the most manifestly cooked-up pieces of evidence was the DNA report from the government's Chemistry Department. The machine reading showed the presence of semen from 5 unknown men including the infamous 'Male Y' sample in the complainant's anus. The complainant had insisted he was not homosexual and only Anwar had ever sodomised him.

The DNA reading was ignored by the Chemist and glossed by the trial judge. They zoomed in on 'Male Y', which the police said matched with Anwar's.

Anwar's sodomy trial will begin on June 6 and last until June 30. He is expected to be convicted and put into jail, paving the way for Najib to call for snap General Elections, which are widely expected to take place before the end of this year.

"Without him, the ties that unite the disparate parties making up the Pakatan - PKR, PAS and DAP - are likely to fray. The process of choosing a new Pakatan spokesman could deepen the divisions within PKR as well as between the member parties,” the Economist Intelligence Unit said in its June report.

Najib's Waterloo

But what goes around may come around.

Najib now faces the prosepct of being called by the French courts to testify in the corruption case against DCN. He had in 2002 - in his capacity as Defense minister - approved the purchase of 2 Scorpene and 1 Agosta submarines from DCN, a sprawling French arms maker.

After failing to get the Malaysian authorities to begin a probe here, civil rights group SUARAM filed a complaint with the French authorities in 2009, accusing DCN of having paid kickbacks of at least 114 million euros (RM530 million) to Najib or proxies of Najib such as Razak Baginda and a firm connected to him, Perimekar. Under French law, any deal corruptly solicited is illegal and DCN can be forced to pay compensation.

Such an outcome would obviously be welcomed by Malaysian taxpayers, who have long protested the purchase of the high-tech subs for a total sum of some RM6.7 billion. However, the Malaysian government may have to initiate separate legal action to claim this amount.

It is also highly unlikely that Najib will co-operate in the French probe. He is not bound to give his testimony although his absence would immediately cement his guilt - not just in Malaysia but amongst other nations, which are watching the case closely. Clear and irrefutable evidence of Najib's participaltion in the subs deal would imply he had lied about his non-involvement in the Altantuya murder. The scandal could well result in his ouster as UMNO president and prime minister.

Again, it would be up to the Malaysian authorities to take action against him for corruption even if the French courts found DCN guilty of bribing the Malaysian parties linked to Najib. The French can only act against DCN, and it is up to Malaysia to act against their own errant PM.

“This is not a national security issue in terms of the functions of the Scorpene submarines. We are not dealing with the security aspects, we are dealing with the finance part, which is of public interest,” said Batu MP Tian Chua, who was also at the press conference.

According to Saifuddin, SUARAM's lawyers have established that subs deal had been brokered by Najib's close associates, Razak Baginda and Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT) chief Lodin Wok Kamaruddin.

The Bala bombshell

Intertwined into this complex transaction is the murder of Altantuya in Kuala Lumpur in 2006. Najib has denied every knowing her and even swore on Quran to convince his supporters that he was innocent.

The Malaysian government has also steadfastly refused to acknowledge Altantuya was involved in the submarines deal, blanking out any evidence that came before their eyes. Their uneven handling of the case could be seen in the way two of Najib's former body guards were sentenced to hang for her death, while Baginda was let off scot-free.

The bodyguards are still waiting in the death row. One of them had confessed that he was paid RM100,000 to kill Altanutya. But the trial judge bulldozed his way through and both men were found guilty of her murder although no motive was ever established. Leaked US cables from WikiLeaks showed embassy officials here had been concerned about the quality of the justice the two men received from the court.

Meanwhile, a private investigator P Balasubramaniam hired by Baginda to stop Altantuya from blackmialing him for her US$500,000 share of the DCN commission dropped a bombshell when he linked Najib and Rosmah to the Altanuya murder.

According to Bala, the beautiful 28-year old had been lovers with both Najib and Baginda. It was a jealous Rosmah who insisted that the men did not pay her a cent of commission.

Altantuya to get her day in court

One way or another, Altantuya's name will surely crop up in the trial. DCN will surely be quizzed on the extent of her role in the deal, and if she had ever appeared at meetings together with Baginda or Najib.

Altantuya's cousin has previously said Altantuya had shown her a photo of herself having dinner with Baginda and Najib.

Meanwhile, current defense minister Zahid Hamidi is likely to be made Najib's sacificial lamb and deputized to attend the Paris hearings. He has indicated he will go unless the Cabinet forbids it.

“I don't think Zahid was privileged to know the travellers. The then-defence minister is in the best position to identify this mysterious person. We could call him Male Y if you like,” said Tian.

The latest bomshell from the French investigators may spark a frenzy in the Najib camp to re-organize his past travel details. In fact, during her murder investigations, it was found that "someone" from the Malaysian immigtaion had erased her entry and exit records.

Meanwhile, there is red-hot speculation Najib had travelled to Macau with Baginda and Altantuya, although SUARAM has said they were still waiting for more details from their lawyers.

- Malaysia Chronicle

Written by Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle

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