Friday, March 28, 2008

Bribery and Other Allegations

1987 Kampung Baru rally
In the midst of UMNO's internal crisis in 1987, a rally by UMNO Youth led by Najib was held in Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur. Anti-Chinese sentiments were expressed openly during the rally with placard carrying slogans like "May 13 has begun" and Najib purportedly declared to the crowd to "Soak the keris in Chinese blood". The keris is a traditional Malay weapon that is often used as a symbol for Malay nationalism. This precipitated existing ethnic tensions leading to fears of a repeat of inter-ethnic violence and eventually resulted in a security operation known as Operasi Lalang, where administrative detentions were made on hundreds of individuals.

UMNO was also declared illegal in early 1988, allowing then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to consolidate his power with the establishment of a new party that assumed the name of the previously banned UMNO. The newly formed party excluded those who had previously challenged Mahathir's authority within the party.

The National Service

Najib in his capacity as the Defence Minister of MalaysiaThe Malaysian National Service, the creative brainchild of Najib Razak, has been beset by problems since its inception. As of May 2008, there have unfortunately been 16 deaths in the Malaysian National Service.[4] Earlier in 2007, when queried by the press on these deaths, Najib was quoted as saying that the 14 children have died at their homes during NS holidays except for 2 who died from drowning, in an attempt to placate worried Malaysian parents. When recently pressured by more calls to suspend the program due to the deaths, Najib responded that it was not feasible to stop the program since the benefits of the program outweighs the disadvantages. It was reported that 9 out of 89 camps in Malaysia will be closed in 2009 after these camps were found to have failed hygiene standards and the camp infrastructure was not properly maintained.

Eurocopter Deal
Malaysia Today posted an article entitled "Eurocopter" featuring a letter purportedly from a corrupted businessman Datuk Zahar Hashim, the chairman of Mentari Services Sdn Bhd, the local representatives for a Russian helicopter who lost his bid through international tender with a series of allegations. The letter alleges irregularities in the recent award to Eurocopter for the supply of 12 new aircraft to replace the ageing Sikorsky S-61A-4 "Nuri" fleet of the Royal Malaysian Air Force. The letter claims the award was given to Eurocopter even though it was the most expensive of all the companies which submitted tenders. It was claimed that Eurocopter's bid was more than RM1.4 billion over that of the lowest bidder and that there was no proper evaluation done by the Defense Ministry. A purported Letter of Intent was signed by a mid-ranking officer in the ministry (which was later exposed as unfounded) just two days before Najib switched portfolios and moved from the Defense Ministry to the Finance Ministry. Datuk Zahar has since faced a tribunal of judges and was expelled form his party UMNO. He has since joined the Pan Islamic Party (PAS). He is now under investigation for misappropriation and abuse of party funds when he was in UMNO. Among the allegations was that he registered the party building wih party funds under his personal name.

On 24 October, 2008 the opposition Pakatan Rakyat Youth wings lodged a report at the Anti-Corruption Agency against Najib Razak for alleged involvement in the RM2.3 billion Eurocopter helicopter deal. They submitted alleged evidence which showed that Malaysia was reported to have signed a letter of intent to acquire 12 Eurocopter EC 727 Cougar helicopters for a sum of RM2.3 billion while Brazil paid US$1.2 billion for 50 units of the same model which was found to be of a much lower specifications.

Scorpene Submarines and Sukhoi Fighters deal
The Malaysian opposition has also accused Najib of involvement in the alleged payment of large commissions to close associates for the purchases of two Scorpene submarines and 18 Sukhoi fighter jets. Sekretariat Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM) recently lodged a police report with allegations tying Najib Razak for corruption and the ongoing trial of Razak Baginda of the murder of Altantuya, who were one of the alleged beneficiaries of the large commissions.

Declaration regarding Malaysia as an Islamic state
In keeping in line with popular strategy of politicizing racial and religious issues, Najib declared on August 2007 that Malaysia has "never been secular because being secular by Western definition means separation of the Islamic principles of in the way we govern the country." Najib's comments subsequently sparked a heated public debate which in turn, roped in other organisations–also split over opinions–to make differing statements on Malaysia's position as an Islamic or Secular state.The Opposition member PAS of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition supported this by demanding an immediate implementation of Hudud laws and separating males with females and muslims from non Muslims at public places.

Murder of Shaariibuugiin Altantuyaa

Najib's officer, Abdul Razak Baginda, who was involved in a high-profile murder case of a Mongolian woman, was subsequently acquitted without calling for defence due to comprehensive lack of a prima facae case, as pronounced by the High Court, which indicated dark forces at work within UMNO in undermining Najib's reputation, Altantuya Shaaribuu.

Raja Petra's Statutory Declaration
In a statutory declaration in his sedition trial in June 2008, Raja Petra accused Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor (Najib's wife) of being one of three individuals who was present at the crime scene when Altantuya Shaariibuu was murdered on Oct 19, 2006, adding Najib's wife, Rosmah Mansor, and Acting Colonel Aziz Buyong and his wife, Norhayati, Rosmah's purported aide-de-camp, were present at the scene of the murder; Raja further wrote Aziz Buyong whose expertise was giving army housing loans was the individual who placed C4 plastic explosive on Altantuya's body and blew it up.

Shaariibuu Setev, the father of murdered Mongolian woman Altantuya Shaariibuu, has asked the police to conduct a thorough investigation into an allegation by Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamaruddin. He said the police should look seriously into the allegation by Raja Petra as it might provide them with fresh evidence. In retaliation, the two people named in Raja Petra Kamarudin’s statutory declaration on June 18, Lt-Col Aziz Buyong and his wife Lt-Col Norhayati Hassan, as having been present at the murder scene of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu are suing the Malaysia Today editor for defamation. Aziz is seeking an apology from Raja Petra to be published in certain websites and newspapers, the removal of the statutory declaration from his blog and damages of RM1 million.

Alleged Interference in the Investigation and Trial
Raja Petra's website Malaysia Today carried a report detailing allegations on an exchange of text messages between Najib and Shafee Abdullah, the prominent lawyer who represented Abdul Razak Baginda before he was charged with abetting two police officers in the murder of the Altantunya. The SMSes, which went on from 8 November to 2 December 2006, raise some questions over the handling of the murder case and suggests that Najib took a strong interest in the investigation from the beginning and might have interfered in the trial proceedings. Raja Petra’s counsel, J. Chandra, later insinuated that the article titled ‘Let’s send the Altantuya murderers to hell’ on April 25 under Raja Petra’s byline was posted without his consent or knowledge.

The Raja Petra's Sedition Trial

In the cross-examination of Superintendent Gan Tack Guan, Raja Petra's defence lawyer shot question after question over Gan’s failure, as the police officer who lodged the report against Raja Petra, to record Najib’s statement despite being named in Raja Petra’s allegedly seditious article published in his website on April 25 last year

Balasubramaniam's Statutory Declaration
Balasubramaniam a/l Perumal, a private investigator hired by Abdul Razak, testified in a statutory declaration that Abdul Razak had told him that Najib had had annal sexual relationships with Altantuya and her father, introduced her to Abdul Razak in Singapore at a time Najib was on official duty elsewhere, and made arrangements to protect Abdul Razak from the murder trial. All mention of Najib's involvement had been removed from Balasubramaniam's testimony after he was intimidated by police and not brought up in the murder trial . Following the police interrogation, Balasubramaniam made a retraction of the statutory declaration that he made on July 1 and replaced it with one that erased all traces of allegations with references to Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Altantuya Shaariibuu's murder.

His lawyer Americk Singh Sidhu said he was not able to get in touch with Bala despite repeated phone calls. The Malaysian police said on Sunday 6 July that they have asked Interpol to help find the private investigator who has been reported missing since making explosive claims linking the deputy premier to a murder. Bala's nephew has filed a missing person's report, saying the investigator and his family had disappeared. It was discovered on July 10 that Balasubramaniam's house in Taman Pelangi here has been broken into but police have yet to ascertain whether anything was stolen. Balasubramaniam is said to have taken refuge in a neighbouring country with his wife and children.

French Newspaper Liberation
French newspaper Liberation claimed that Najib Razak had indeed met with Altantuya, who was the mistress of Abdul Razak Baginda, his close aide and associate, in Paris in 2005. It mentioned that a photograph was allegedly taken showing the three in a Paris nightclub. The Liberation also suggested that Abdul Razak had been Najib’s intermediary for arms purchases. In October 2006, the newspaper claims that Altantuya was informed that the commission paid by Armaris, a Spanish company involved in Malaysia’s acquisition of three submarines for one billion euros (RM4.7 billion), had been deposited in a bank account in Malaysia. The commission of 114 million euros was allegedly paid into the account of Perimekar, a company Razak controlled. Altantuya then allegedly flew to Kuala Lumpur to demand her share of the commission, which was to have been US$500,000.

Alleged Destruction of Evidence
After the murder of Altantuya, Datuk Syed Abdul Rahman Alhabshi the honorary consul of Mongolia in Malaysia contacted Shaaribuu Setev, her father. When Datuk Said asked Shaaribuu for all documents, especially pictures, notebooks, films, computer files that could help with the murder investigation, Shaaribuu did not hesitate. He gave Alhabshi everything he had found in his daughter appartment in Ulan Bator. Alhabshi kept the documents for himself, not giving them to the court in Malaysia. “We thought he was working for us, but actually he is working for the malaysian side”, says Shaaribuu with bitterness. Altantuya’s father then asked the Mongolian foreign ministry to dismiss Datuk Said from his position as an honorary consul. The ministry then summoned the diplomat in Ulan Bator to ask him to explain his behaviour. To justify his attitude, Datuk Said has said to Shaaribuu “Given my high position within Umno, it is not possible for me to oppose Najib Razak”.

Murder trial
On July 22, 2008, in light of the new declarations lawyer Karpal Singh filed a notice of motion to call Najib and three others to testify in the trial for the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu. Karpal who holds a watching brief for Altantuya's family, also sought to recall private detective P. Balasubramaniam who was the first prosecution witness in the trial. Karpal also wanted all proceedings with regard to the trial to be postponed pending the disposal of his application. On 23 July 2008 the High Court rejected a petition by lawyer Karpal Singh to obtain testimony from Najib, dealing a blow to the opposition's efforts to link Najib to the 2006 killing of translator Altantuya Shaariibuu. In rejecting the application, High Court judge Mohd Zaki said Karpal, who is holding a watching brief for victim Altantuya's family, has no locus standi or is in no position to make the application. He mentioned only the parties involved, namely the prosecution and the defense, have the right to do so.

Even behind bars under ISA detention, Raja Petra's website Malaysia Today carried a report detailing allegations on an exchange of text messages between Najib and Shafee Abdullah, the prominent lawyer who represented Abdul Razak Baginda before he was charged with abetting two police officers in the murder of the Altantunya. The SMSes, which went on from 8 November to 2 December, 2006 raises some questions over the handling of the murder case which reads like a John Le Carre thriller and suggests that Najib took a strong interest in the investigation from the beginning, an irony within the Malaysian context that begs to question how do the likes of Raja Petra ( now released!) and the civil societies get their powers from, unless some invisible hand assisting from the corridors within the government itself v. A police report was made against Najib by “Sekretariat Anak Muda Malaysia” (SAMM) in relation to the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder case, calling for the police to reopen the investigation papers on the murder of the Mongolian and investigate their allegation that Najib misused his power and postion in the case.

On 31 October 2008, High Court Justice Zaki Yasin acquitted Razak of abetting in the murder of Altantuya. Dr Shaariibuu Setev, Altantuya's fathers had instructed lawyer Karpal Singh, who held a watching brief during the trial to apply for a review. On 24 December, Karpal Singh filed an application at the High Court here on Wednesday to quash the Attorney General’s decision not to appeal Abdul Razak Baginda’s acquittal. He said the application for leave was necessary since the 14 day period to file for an appeal by the Attorney General against the Oct 31 acquittal had expired on 14 November. Najib Razak who will become prime minister after the Umno party polls in March, will want to put to rest any links to the murder trial as he seeks to rebuild and strengthen his Barisan Nasional coalition.

Religiosity issues
On 22 August 2008, Najib publicly swore according to Islam at Masjid Jamek Guar Perahu that he never knew murdered Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu, nor had anything to do with her. The deputy prime minister said: "Even though this is not an official oath on the Quran: Wallahi, Wabillahi, Watallahi, I never knew nor had anything to do with the Mongolian woman Altantuya." Raja Petra, who has never exercised his democratic rights again vowed to deny Najib a chance to be Prime Minister, put up the sworn statement on this Malaysia Today website by Thagarajoo Thangavelu who claimed to be a driver for businessman Datuk Kenneth Eswaran and formerly for politician Datuk K.S. Nallakaruppan in a posting titled "Najib: Muslim by birth, Hindu by practice". In the statutory declaration dated Aug 22 and made in Kuala Lumpur, Thagarajoo claimed Eswaran was a close friend of Najib and had brought a Hindu priest from Kerala named Mr. Ji to perform rituals regularly at the deputy prime minister's private residence in Jalan Duta and also at the official residence in Putrajaya. He also claimed that the priest had performed similar rituals before the 2007 Ijok by-election to ensure Barisan Nasional's victory and also to prevent Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi from marrying Jeanne Abdullah.

Conspiracy against Anwar Ibrahim

On 30 June 2008, Najib denied any personal involvement in the alleged political conspiracy against former deputy premier Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, including a police report alleging Anwar committed sodomy against his former aide. He said the picture of his aide Khairil Anas Yusof with the alleged sodomy victim Saiful Bukhari Azlan at his office had been taken three months ago when the latter, in his capacity as a student leader, came to his office to seek a scholarship. However, on 1 July 2008, Najib mentioned that he met Saiful at his residence a few days before the Saiful made the police report on Anwar. Najib also said that Saiful sought to meet Najid to reveal that he had been sodomised by Anwar. Raja Petra contended that a friend had accompanied Saiful to a meeting with Najib before charges against Anwar were made public, implying that the new charges against Anwar had been trumped up.

It was alleged by Federal Territory Mosque PKR member imam Ramlang Porigi that Najib's special officer Assoc Prof Khairil Annas Jusoh asked him to witness the oath-taking at the mosque on 15 August 2008 by Saiful that Anwar sodomised him.Prof Khairil Anns is suing him for defamation. Ramlang was the witness at the Federal Territory Mosque in Jalan Duta on August 15 when Mohd Saiful Bukhari took an oath to demonstrate he was telling the truth when he accused Anwar of having sodomised him. Ramlang Porigi said that Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan’s Quranic oath or “sumpah muhabalah” was technically wrong. “I was only there as a witness, to listen in,” he elaborated, noting that Saiful made two errors while reciting the oath.

The first was when he mispronounced the word for God and Ramlang had to correct him; and the second when he confused the date of the alleged sodomy incident and corrected himself. It was supposed to have happened on June 26, but Saiful slipped and said Aug 26 instead. Ramlang described that Saiful looked far from regretful or fearful, for someone who had just uttered dreadful words that essentially asked God to rain down his just vengeance on him and his descendants if he lied. Ramlang reiterated that he had only been given the role of witness to play that day because he had been ordered to do so by his superiors. He mentioned that as a simple government servant, he had to follow orders.

Conflict of interest
As Najib is months away from occupying the top job in Malaysia, he has begun to answer his four brothers's possible influence in his incoming administration. His brothers Nizam, Nazim, Johari and especially his brother Nazir, who is the group chief executive of CIMB, have benefited business-wise during Najib's political career, signifying a conflict of interest.

Election Campaigning
During the Kuala Terengganu by-election on January 17, 2009 Najib who was in charge of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition's election campaign tried to spend its way to victory. It was stated that he handed out a ridiculous RM10.5 billion to voters. That works out at nearly RM131,250 for each voter in the seaside electorate, which included the establishment of a billion ringgit trust to manage the state's oil revenue and the well-timed handover of millions in petroleum royalties. Barisan Nasional eventually lost the election.

Allegations of Bribing Elected Officials to crossover to Barisan Nasional
Ipoh Barat PKR division head Fauzi Muda, in his statutory declaration made before Commissioner of Oaths Yong Yoke Thye, claimed that he had received an offer of RM50 million from the BN to bring in at least two Perak State Assemblymen, to join Umno or become an Independent. Fauzi who has been convicted twice for perjury and false representation before also claimed that he was recently offered RM50 million for himself, RM 50 million to Anwar Ibrahim and another RM5 million each to the two Perak State Executive Councillors, PKR Assemblyman for Changkat Jering, Mohd Osman Jailu, and the PKR Assemblyman for Behrang, Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi, to defect.

In this statutory declaration he claimed that BN purportedly promised that the corruption charges on the two Assemblymen, where they were charged with accepting bribes to obtain an approval for a housing project worth RM180 million at Sri Iskandar, Perak Tengah, would be dropped if they defected. The statutory declaration pointed to Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin, who has been working for Najib Razak as the person who tried to bribe the elected officials.

The statutory declaration also revealed that Fauzi had a face-to-face meeting with Najib on 11 March 2008, during which Najib made him the offer of RM50 million to entice Perak state assemblypersons to leave the Pakatan Rakyat state government. The Malaysian police has begun investigations after UMNO lodged a poliece report and if initial findings reveal that Fauzi has been lying and he will be picked up soon for criminal defamation.

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