Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Still waiting to hear the Fat Lady sing

Altantuya Shaariibuu's bone fragments

Najib and the Murdered Mongolian

Asia Sentinel
Friday, 13 November 2009

The Malaysian murder case that won't die

A Malaysian private investigator in hiding for more than a year after recanting a sensational statement connecting now-Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to the murder of a Mongolian translator, has surfaced to reaffirm his allegations and to say he had been offered a RM5 million (US$1.48 million) bribe to disappear by a businessman said to be connected to Najib's wife, Rosmah Mansor.

The attractive translator, Altantuya Shaariibuu, was murdered by two of Najib's elite bodyguards in October of 2006 in a particularly gruesome fashion. After she was shot twice in the head, her body was blown up with C4 military explosives. Any indication that she and two friends had entered Malaysia disappeared from the immigration department's records.

The statement by the private detective, P Balasubramaniam, in a YouTube video, appeared on Malaysia Today, the website run by blogger-in-exile Raja Petra Kamarudin, who promised far more startling episodes in the near future. As many as five segments, accounting for 20 minutes of revelations, remain to be aired, he said in an email to Asia Sentinel. The first segment can be found here.

Balasubramaniam said in his original statutory declaration that he had been hired by Abdul Razak Baginda, one of Najib's closest friends, to protect him from the wrath of Altantuya after he had jilted her. Razak Baginda was originally charged with the murder along with Najib's bodyguards but was acquitted without having to put on a defense.

In the 90-second video, Balasubramaniam said he had met with the businessman, Deepak Jaikishan, the director of a carpet firm, in a bak kut teh (pork rib soup) restaurant in the Rawang suburb where he lived, in which the businessman offered him the money. In an accompanying story in Malaysia Today, Raja Petra displayed photocopies of RM50,000 checks on Public Bank of Malaysia made out by Deepak Jaikishan. Although no indication was given of where Balasubramaniam is now, other sources say he may be in India. In the videotape, he was said to be in the company of three Malaysian lawyers.

Almost immediately on giving his original statement tying Najib to Altantuya in the company of his lawyer and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, the private investigator was taken to meet some well-connected individuals and offered RM5 million in exchange for his complicity. The next morning  Bala appeared briefly and sullenly at a hastily convened media conference where a lawyer read a statement saying P.I. Bala had been coerced into making his first statutory declaration by Anwar Ibrahim and others. Then Bala and his family disappeared. .

In his original statement, Balasubramaniam said he was making it because of his "disappointment at the standard of investigations conducted by the authorities into the circumstances surrounding the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu." He wrote that he wanted the "relevant authorities to reopen their investigations into this case immediately so that any fresh evidence may be presented to the Court prior to submissions at the end of the prosecution's case."


The Confession that Never Was
Questions for Najib over a Missing Model
Altantuya's Killers Judged Guilty

Cherchez The French
Asia Sentinel
Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Who got what for the sale of French submarines to Malaysia?

On September 3, a 66-meter submarine named for Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia's founding father, glided into the Royal Malaysian Navy base at Port Klang on Malaysia's western coast after a 54-day voyage from France. Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak (right) was there to greet them.

As defense minister, Najib had commissioned a huge military buildup to upgrade Malaysia's armed forces including the purchase of two Scorpene-class submarines and the lease of a third, a retired French Navy Agosta-class boat, for US$1 billion. The two submarines were designed by France's DCNS naval shipbuilder and built in partnership with Spain's Navantia. Both companies are state owned. The deal earned a commission of €114 million for a company owned by Najib's best friend, Abdul Razak Baginda, once the head of a Kuala Lumpur political thinktank.

The Tunku Abdul Rahman, along with its companion, to be named for Najib's father Tun Abdul Razak and to be delivered in 2010, is at the very heart of the continuing controversy over the death of Altantuya Shaariibuu, a 28-year-old Mongolian translator and Razak Baginda's jilted lover. Altantuya was murdered in October of 2006 by two bodyguards attached to Najib's office after Razak , who had jilted Altantuya, went to Najib's chief of staff, Musa Safri, for help in keeping the 28-year-old woman away from him. Not long after being acquitted under questionable circumstances of participating in her murder, he left the country for England.

Questions over the purchases go well beyond the death of a spurned paramour and point to some difficult subjects for French and Malaysian officials. These questions assume added relevancy in light of revelations last week that someone, allegedly close to the Prime Minister, was willing to pay RM5 million (US$1.48 million) to a private detective to forget his statement connecting Najib to Altantuya.

The continuing controversy makes it appropriate to ask to examine the defence minister's diaries, calendars and telephone logs and those of Razak Baginda in 2002, when the Royal Malaysian Navy ordered the vessels. In letters found after her death, Altantuya said she was attempting to blackmail Razak Baginda for as much as US$500,000, apparently, her father said, because of her role as translator over the purchase of the submarines. Malaysia ordered the two diesel-electric submarines from DCN SA (Direction des Constructions Navales ), a French manufacturer of warships and submarines and the largest naval shipyard in Europe, in 2002. However, Razak Baginda and Altantuya went to France at the same time Najib did in 2005 to settle details of the purchase.

Perimekar, a company owned by Abdul Razak Baginda, received the €114 million for “coordination and support services” – 11 percent of the sale price of the submarines. Zainal Abidin, then the deputy defense minister, told a parliamentary inquiry that such commissions were commonplace in Malaysia. No further inquiry was made as to the commission, nor was any attempt made to determine what coordination and support services Perimekar might be providing.