Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Malaysiakini, 20 Nov 2008
What did Razak Baginda accomplish with his first press conference since his acquittal on 31 October 2008? I viewed this video a couple of times and came to certain conclusions after carefully observing his facial expressions and the timbre of his voice.
First conclusion: his press statement was from the mind, not the heart - except when he expresses gratitude for the support of his family. There was very little that was sincere or spontaneous about it, and reading from a prepared script certainly did not help his image. Damage control for Najib and Rosmah - and the political status quo - that's what Razak Baginda's press conference was mainly about.
His self-conscious references to Allah and Prophet Muhammad were specifically intended to project the image of a man who has grown "closer to God" because of his ordeal. Any gain in spiritual consciousness is hardly apparent in Razak Baginda's energy field - he comes across as just another arrogant, half-baked, self-serving businessman who knows exactly whom to curry favor with in Umno.
No doubt Baginda and Najib may have developed a genuine friendship in the course of their professional relationship, because they are similar in many ways. Both view themselves as cosmopolitan alpha male members of an elite, well-educated class of "global Malays" (more comfortable thinking and speaking in English, but they know how to accentuate their Malayness when it suits them). Both come across as fairly glib and accustomed to living privileged lives in the corridors of power - but both are pretty bad actors and should fire their scriptwriters immediately.
Baginda's main agenda, as I mentioned, is obviously to absolve Najib and Rosmah from any involvement with Altantuya's abduction and grisly murder, while attempting to regain a measure of sympathy for himself. He does so by lashing out viciously at bloggers who have kept the story on the radar screen, though he's careful not to name anyone. He keeps using the word "truth" ("The truth is the truth and nothing can ever change the truth!") - meaning the official version of the truth which (like 9/11) doesn't quite hold together as a scenario - but nevertheless must immutably remain "the truth" (for otherwise too many extremely large heads will roll!)
WHAT'S THE OFFICIAL VERSION OF THE TRUTH?
Najib never once met "the Mongolian woman." Altantuya was NOT involved in the French submarine deal even though she has been reported by reputable sources to have been engaged as an interpreter by Baginda's company, Perimekar Sdn Bhd. The RM534.8 million commission Perimekar received was absolutely routine and aboveboard. Razak Baginda ended the affair with Altantuya but she continued to harass him for money, and that's why she flew all the way to Malaysia with her cousin and another friend, hired a private investigator to track Baginda down, and demanded USD500,000. No immigration records were ever deleted - and even if it happened, it was purely an accident. Baginda was introduced to the two UTK personnel, Azilah and Sirul, by Musa Safri (Najib's security aide) who then conveniently vanishes from the story.
The fact remains: Altantuya was last seen alive by P.I. Balasubramaniam in front of Baginda's residence in Damansara. The private investigator testifies that Azilah arrived in a car with another man and a woman (presumably police officers) and ordered Altantuya to leave the scene with them. It's perfectly plausible that Baginda really had no idea what the UTK personnel were planning to do with Altantuya. It's also reasonable to say he had no authority over the UTK officers and therefore was not directly involved in the murder. So the glaring question that begs to be answered is:
WHO ORDERED ALTANTUYA KILLED?
There can be only three people who might have done that. The first is Musa Safri, if only because he has the authority to issue orders to the UTK officers. However, he had no personal motive to destroy Altantuya. He would just as gladly have instructed that Altantuya be detained for questioning and then forcibly put on the next flight to Mongolia. The second, of course, is Najib Razak - because he wanted to help his friend and business colleague Baginda out of a tight spot. However, I doubt Najib would jeopardize his promising political career by deliberately getting implicated in cold-blooded murder. Which leaves the third person, Rosmah Mansor, who has no official position in the government but who is widely rumored to call the shots in the Najib household. Rosmah may never have met Altantuya either - and the only reason she might have wanted to see her dead would be because her husband did, in fact, have an affair with "the Mongolian woman" whose continued presence in the country was also a grave threat to her husband's political ambitions.
I'm willing to concede that despite his clear complicity in Mindef wheelings and dealings, Abdul Razak Baginda doesn't look the bloodthirsty type and would have balked at ordering anyone killed. He was at his wits' end and didn't know how to deal with this very determined woman. It's in the public record that Razak Baginda engaged the services of P.I. Balasubramaniam (left), hoping to intimidate Altantuya and persuade her to leave him alone. However, things got a little messy and murky when Bala's assistant got too friendly with the Mongolian ladies. When Altantuya lodged a police report against Razak Baginda at the Brickfields police station, the situation became critical - and that's when Baginda broke the bad news about Altantuya to Najib and Rosmah.
Here are more glaring questions that remain unanswered: Why did the Attorney-General publicly announce that only three people were involved - Razak Baginda, Azilah and Sirul? Why did he replace both the prosecuting team and the presiding judge at the last minute? How was the crime discovered in the first place? Knowing Razak Baginda's close friendship with Najib, wouldn't the defence minister have been an obvious target of police questioning - especially since the UTK personnel involved were his personal bodyguards? Why did the PM not instruct his deputy to take temporary leave of absence to facilitate a thorough probe into the whole complex affair? Why did the trial judge, Zaki Yasin, shoot down Karpal Singh's petition for new evidence to be included without giving it due consideration? And why did both the prosecution and defence teams appear so eager to gloss over "embarrassing" testimony, e.g., when Burmaa Oyunchimeg (Altantuya's cousin) stated that she had seen a photograph showing the deceased dining with two Razaks?
And why would Balasubramaniam be prompted to issue such a detailed statutory declaration implicating Najib - and then withdraw the allegations within 24 hours?
WHERE IS BALA AND HIS FAMILY - AND WHY MUST HE GO INTO HIDING?
When amateurs attempt to deny, cover up, or obfuscate, they invariably bungle. Razak Baginda's greatest blunder at the press conference was to include this totally lame endorsement (and I quote in full):
"I have known [Najib Razak] for quite a while. I would say this, he would make a good prime minister. I have known him over the years and he is a well-read person. We had countless talks about books, I would exchange books, he would lend me books and he sometimes took my books. If there are things he is impressed about, we would discuss it. He is aware what is going on in the world. Intellectually, he is not bad and I say he would make a good PM."
Najib Razak's ambition to become PM is seriously jeopardized by the dark cloud of suspicion that persists in hanging over his head in connection with Altantuya's gruesome murder. No matter how often and how vehemently Najib denies knowing "the Mongolian woman"... no matter how many Korans he swears upon... and no matter what any of his loyal supporters say about his innocence... the public will not be convinced unless several things happen, namely:
1) The Attorney-General is sacked for criminal abuse of power and replaced with somebody credible. Abdul Gani Patail (left) was assigned to fix Anwar in 1998 and he did so willingly and without conscience. That's how he got promoted to AG.
2) The Inspector General of Police is sacked - for the same obvious reasons.
3) Balasubramaniam a/l Perumal reappears to explain his vanishing act and is recalled as a key witness in the Altantuya trial.
4) The home minister identifies the person(s) responsible for deleting Altantuya's immigration records and discloses where the order came from. Furthermore, he withdraws his appeal against Raja Petra Kamarudin's release from Kamunting. The vigor with which RPK has been persecuted suggests that the entire top Umno leadership is involved in the Altantuya cover-up.
5) Azilah and Sirul are ordered to reveal their faces in court.
6) Najib and Rosmah instruct the AG's Chambers to withdraw the defamation and sedition charges against Raja Petra so that they can initiate libel suits against the blogger for publicly accusing them of direct involvement in Altantuya's murder.
These are the minimum conditions required to clear Najib Razak and Rosmah Mansor of suspicion once and for all. I am willing to bet my tenuous credibility as a despised blogger who trades in innuendo and insinuation that not a single one of these conditions will be met.
[First posted 20 November 2008]