Scorpene’s Sting: Liberation Publishes Expose re: Malaysia’s Bribery & Murder Scandal
Defense Industry Daily, 24 March 2009
The Franco-Spanish Scorpene diesel-electric attack submarine competes on the global market against an array of competitors, foremost of which is ThyssenKrupp HDW’s U209/212/214 family. In June 2002, the Malaysian government signed a EUR 1 billion contract with Armaris (now DCNS) and Spanish naval shipbuilder Izar (now Navantia) for 2 SSK Scorpenes and associated support and training. The first of class KD Tunku Abdul Rahman has begun trials , and is scheduled to enter service in 2009.
Within Malaysia, the sale has been compromised by an ongoing trial and set of legal actions around the public kidnapping and private execution of Mongolian modeling student, translator, and paramour Altantuya Shaariibuu. The case took a dramatic turn when the victim was closely connected to EUR 114 million in “commission” payments to Perimekar, a firm owned by a close associate of Malaysia’s current Defence Minister and impending Prime Minister. The monies were paid by Armaris (now DCNS) for for “support and coordination services,” a term that may bring to mind the murder of Taiwanese Captain Yin Ching-feng in connection with a bribery scandal involving Taiwan’s DCNS frigates .
Full and impartial accountability for public figures is not a prominent feature of Malaysian justice, but French Journalist Arnaud Dubus added to the pressure with a March 5/09 report in France’s Liberation, “Un cadavre tres derangeant: L’etrange affaire du meurtre d’une interprete mongole qui gene le pouvoir en Malaisie” (Page 30-31). It names very prominent names, offers details, and reveals the contents of documents the Malaysian court has refused to admit…
If the documents are true, Altantuya was murdered on the orders of Abdul Razak Baginda. Baginda is a close associate of Najib Razak, who is Malaysia’s Deputy PM and Minister of Defence, and impending Prime Minister. Baginda has been acquitted in a Malaysian court, but Razak himself has been implicated in the associated bribery deal, and Dubus’ report includes detauls of text messages Baginda was reportedly sent by Razak, which strongly imply efforts by Razak to cover up the case and interfere with police investigations.
The motive for Altantuya’s death was reportedly twofold: EUR 500,000 she wished to claim as her share of the “commission,” and the public embarrassment caused to Baginda’s marriage after she tried to collect. The kidnapping was carried out by by agents of the Malaysian Special Branch police, in broad daylight, in front of Baginda’s house, with witnesses present. Malaysian sources have not published full details, but media organizations outside of Malaysia have.
On March 16/09 the case took another turn when Malaysia’s ruling party suspended an opposition lawmaker for a year, after he called Razak a murderer and demanded that he answer questions about his role in the affair.
'Doomsday pin pulled' on Malaysian politics over Najib Razak
Radio Australia, 25 March 2009
* Listen to the audio report: Windows Media
In Malaysia, an explosive speech by a former UMNO minister has cast a shadow over the imminent prime ministership of Najib Razak. Prominent Malaysian lawyer Zaid Ibrahim says long-standing scandals and sensational charges, including alleged links to a murder case, against Datuk Najib make him unfit for leadership.
Presenter: Joanna McCarthy
Speaker: Professor Clive Kessler, emeritus professor in international studies, University of New South Wales; Lim Kit Siang, parliamentary leader, Democratic Action Party; Razali Ibrahim, UMNO youth head, Johor
McCARTHY: It was, according to long-time Malaysia watcher Clive Kessler, not your average Rotary Club speech.
Speaking to a weekly Rotary luncheon in Kuala Lumpur, former minister in the prime minister's department, Zaid Ibrahim, lashed out at Najib Razak, tying him to a host of scandals that he says make him unfit to be the country's next prime minister.
IBRAHIM: This is really the high noon of Malaysian politics you could say. It is, by making that speech, Zaid, by going public, by making that speech, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim you may say pulled the pin on the doomsday machine of Malaysian politics.
McCARTHY: Clive Kessler says Zaid Ibrahim has thrust into the public eye the range of sensational allegations that have long dogged Najib Razak but have been ignored by Malaysia's government controlled media.
They include charges of cronyism over the award of military contracts, the recent power grab in Perak state, and most controversially, alleged links to the brutal murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya, charges he denies and for which no evidence has been produced.
KESSLER: I think the point that I would make and possibly I think Zaid Ibrahim would make is without going into, without canvassing, without going into the substance of these accusations, that many people are discussing, are talking about these things. Many people believe them to be true and I think Zaid Ibrahim's central point is that however eager people may be in Malaysia to get rid of somebody who is perceived as a weak prime minister they should not rush to replace him with somebody who is no less widely seen to be a compromised prime minister.
McCARTHY: The alleged ties to the murder of Altantuya, for which two of Najib's bodyguards have been tried and are awaiting a verdict, continue to haunt Najib Razak.
Last week opposition lawmaker Gobind Singh called him a murderer in parliament. He's now been been banned from the house for one year.
Gobind Singh's colleague and leader of the opposition Democratic Action Party, Lim Kit Siang, says Najib Razak needs to answer to a royal commission over the allegations against him.
SIANG: There should be open transparent accountability. He should come forward so that all these allegations, serious allegations and doubts over him will stop hounding and haunting him, which will affect definitely his legitimacy as the prime minister. For the first time in the country's history, no one who is going to become the prime minister has been caught with so many questions and inquiries and this is something that has to be addressed and creates serious problems of crisis of confidence.
McCARTHY: Despite the allegations, Najib Razak is expected to be safely appointed party leader this week and assume the prime ministership soon afterwards.
The UMNO conference is a chance for the party to take stock of its unprecedented losses in last year's elections and set a course for tackling the country's looming recession.
The UMNO youth head for Johor, Razali Ibrahim, says the party is united behind Najib Razak.
He says the allegations raised by Zaid Ibrahim, who was ousted from UMNO last December, are an attempt to tear down his former party.
IBRAHIM: Who is Zaid anyway? And of course this transition will strengthen the position of UMNO and the opposition will be not happy with this transition. I can assure that it will be the best for Malaysia, furthermore, in this world economic crisis, that with this transition, UMNO will be able to overcome the downfall of the problem that is existing before.
McCARTHY: But Clive Kessler says Najib Razak's leadership has been undermined by these allegations.
He says Zaid Ibrahim has raised the so-called doomsday scenario by urging Malaysia's king to intervene.
KESSLER: I believe that there were a number of people who are trying to promote this idea that the ruler might not want to and might not be obliged to appoint Najib even if he wins the UMNO election, but that was a kind of a bit of an underground movement. It's now out in the open, and there is a head of steam behind it, and I think it's got a much better chance than it did a week ago. It may not be a great chance, but it's a much stronger one than it was a week ago.