KUALA LUMPUR, March 25 — Malaysia’s next prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak should take the witness stand to clear his name or take legal action against the growing number of foreign publications linking him with the murder of Altantuya Shariibuu and the purchase of submarines.
He “should finally face these suspicions and implied charges, submit himself to legal scrutiny, and come clean on them’’, said Umno’s elder statesman Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, himself a target of an international media witch hunt in the 1980s following the infamous BMF scandal.
“The BMF scandal of the 1980s also had its share of lurid detail. There too a large sum of money and a murder was involved. An unseen hand had woven the threads of the story around me to destroy me politically. But when international newspapers alleged that I was involved in any wrongdoing, I took action against each and every one of them in their home jurisdictions.
“I sued The Telegraph and The Sunday Times of the UK, and The South China Morning Post of Hong Kong. I won all three cases, the newspapers published unreserved apologies and printed retractions covering half a broadsheet page each, and I came away with a tidy sum of money for my trouble,’’ noted Ku Li, as he is fondly known in Malaysia.
Najib is now being given the same treatment in the international media, with the UK’s Sunday Times, the International Herald Tribune, the French daily, Libération, The Australian Financial Review, the Far Eastern Economic Review and the New York Times all raising questions about the link between the murdered young woman, Najib, and the commission paid out by the French company Armaris to a Malaysian company for the purchase of submarines.
“This is now an international story. And this story will not go away. With its dramatic details and the alleged involvement of elite Malaysian government operatives, it captures the journalistic imagination. But the story is now connected with an ongoing investigation into the dealings of a major French company. The story is also going to stick around because it is a handy looking-glass into Malaysia’s ‘increasingly dysfunctional political system.’ It implicates our entire system of government, our judiciary, and our press, and it casts a shadow on our ability as a nation to face and tell the truth.
“The scandal is bringing shame to the nation and damaging our international credibility. Swearing on the Al-Quran is not the way out. Scoundrels have been known to do that. The truth, established through the rigorous and public scrutiny of the law, is the only remedy if an untrue story has gained currency not just internationally but at home among a large section of the people.’’
Ku Li said that Najib should voluntarily offer to testify at the trial of the two officers charged with killing Altantuya. He could also write to these newspapers and if necessary he should take legal action against them to clear his and Malaysia’s name.
Najib has vigorously denied accusations raised by Opposition politicians of any involvement in the murder of the Mongolian model. These accusations were raised in a by-election in 2007 and have refused to go away.
His supporters are convinced that it is not a coincidence that there has been a gush of reports in the international media about the Altantuya case just as he is a cusp away from the top job in the country. They see the hidden hand of the Opposition behind the sudden interest in the case by publications which did not show much interest in the case which saw Najib’s advisor, Razak Baginda and two members of the elite police team being charged with murder.
Razak Baginda was acquitted without his defence being called while the two policemen will know their fate on April 9. Najib’s name was dragged into the case because the court heard that his aide-de-camp Musa Safri had introduced Razak Baginda to the two policemen. The two policemen are alleged to have shot the woman and blown her body to pieces using explosives.