Model's murder raises explosive questions for Malaysian minister

December 14, 2006

THREE men will appear in Malaysia's Shah Alam High Court today in a case that has riveted the country's media and political classes.

The murderous drama involves a beautiful Mongolian model, a Muslim political analyst with friends in the highest places, and an explosive cover-up — the body was blown to bits.

Altantunya Shariibuu, a 28-year-old mother of two, was kidnapped on October 19. She was allegedly shot twice in the head, and her blown-up remains were found in forest at Shah Alam, south of Kuala Lumpur. She was identified by DNA taken from bone fragments.

Respected political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, 46, who was allegedly her lover, has pleaded not guilty to abetting murder, a charge that carries the death penalty.

The prosecution case hinges on an alleged meeting between Abdul Razak and two elite police officers at his Kuala Lumpur office the day before the kidnapping. The two officers, special taskforce Chief Inspector Azhila Hadri, 30, and Corporal Siral Azhar Umar, 35, are also charged with murder. They have not entered a plea.

Abdul Razak is a confidant of Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Najib Abdul Razak.

Although Mr Najib has not been formally implicated in the case, questions have been raised about the alleged involvement of special taskforce police and whether the apparent use of C4 explosives points to an abuse of Defence Ministry power.

Malaysia's elite has not seen anything like it since former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim was falsely accused of sodomising his driver.

Unlike Mr Anwar, who was beaten up by the police chief and jailed for six years, Abdul Razak was charged and then released on health grounds in late November, on an unguaranteed bail bond. This had never been allowed before in a Malaysian murder trial, but there was no protest from prosecutors.

The victim's father, Setev Shaariibuu, travelled from Mongolia to Malaysia to seek justice for his daughter.

"This is an international case, this is a brutal murder," he told reporters after Abdul Razak was released. "It was all about releasing him, all about his family, and his background … I hope justice will be served."

Early in the case, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi promised there would be no cover-up, but the Government has since refused to comment, saying the case is before the court.

That has not stopped opposition politicians. In Parliament, Karpal Singh of the Democratic Action Party has claimed the C4 explosives could only have been found in the Defence Ministry.

"So what was the link of the Defence Ministry (with the case)?" he reportedly asked Parliament this month. "Why was Altantunya's body exploded? Was she pregnant? Are the police afraid to investigate because it involved a highly placed minister?"

Another opposition politician, Syed Husin Ali of the People's Justice Party, said: "Should the Government continue to be silent, rumours will spread even further and will eventually be accepted as the truth by the public." The trial is expected to begin next year.

Political Life History

Political career

[edit] UMNO
As a candidate for UMNO, Najib was first elected to the Dewan Rakyat in 1976, representing the parliamentary constituency of Pekan in an uncontested election after the death of his father. At the age of 23, Najib was also the youngest member of parliament to be elected.

Within the ranks of UMNO, Najib was first appointed as the head of UMNO Youth's Pekan branch and as a member of UMNO Youth's Executive Council (Exco) in 1976. Beginning 1981, he was selected as a member of UMNO's Supreme Council, before winning the post of vice president of UMNO Youth in 1982, succeeding Mokhtar Hashim following his decision to vacant the post.

In 1987, Najib was announced as the Acting Leader of Movement of UMNO Youth by Anwar Ibrahim after Anwar was asked to contest for the post of Vice President of UMNO. Following the complete reorganisation and founding of the "New" UMNO by Mahathir Mohamad in the aftermath of the 1988 Malaysian constitutional crisis, Najib was appointed president of UMNO Youth in 1988.

By 1993, Najib was elected as one of six vice presidents of UMNO in response to Anwar's decision to contest as the deputy president of UMNO. Najib continued to defend his post in party elections held in 1993, 1996 and 2000.

On March 26 2009, Najib won the Umno presidency unopposed. Umno permanent chairman Tan Sri Onn Ismail made the declaration at the outset of the Umno General Assembly at the Dewan Merdeka, Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC)

Life History of Najib

Najib is the eldest of Abdul Razak's six sons (the other four being Nizam, Nazim, Nazir, Nazri Aziz and Johari),his younger brother, Nazir Abdul Razak, runs the country's second-largest lender, Bumiputera-Commerce Holdings Bhd the second Prime Minister of Malaysia, and a nephew of Hussein Onn, the third Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib is regarded as a political blue blood. He was first married to Tengku Puteri Zainah Tengku Eskandar; but is currently married to Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor. He has four sons, Kenneth Eswaran, Nizar (born 1978), Nazifuddin and Norashman, and four daughters, Siti Norhaliza, Puteri Norlisa, Pangiran Nur Jafri and Nooryana Najwa.

Najib received his primary and secondary education at St. John's Institution, Kuala Lumpur. He also attended renowned Malay College Kuala Kangsar, Malvern College, Worcestershire, England and subsequently attended the University of Nottingham, where he received a bachelor's degree in industrial economics in 1974.

Aged just 23, he became the youngest MP in Malaysian history, winning uncontested the Pekan constituency in the east coast state of Pahang after it fell vacant following the sudden death of his father.

A year later he became the youngest deputy minister and returned to state politics to become chief minister of Pahang, his home state, by the age of 29.

He later returned as MP and was appointed a full minister in 1987

Najib holds the title of Orang Kaya Inderapura Shahbandar of Pahang Darul Makmur.