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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Siva: Megat making excuses for MACC's no-show

Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle

PKR vice president Sivarasa Rasiah slammed MACC adviser Megat Najmuddin Megat Khas for defending the commission’s last-minute decision not to interview private investigator P Balasubramanim, even though the latter may have key information that could break a high-profile murder-and-corruption case implicating Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor.

“If Megat Najumuddin is honest about this, then he should have considered all the facts including the final decision to go had already been approved after consultation with the MACC’s own advisers,” PKR vice president Sivarasa Rasiah told Malaysia Chronicle.

“Why then did they announce they were going but U-turn at the last minute? This dents the credibility of not only Najib and Rosmah, but Malaysia as a whole. The Altantuya murder is followed around the world and with the MACC’s withdrawal, the inference is that there has been political intervention from the very top, perhaps even Najib himself, and that one can get away with pretty much in this country so long as one has enough political pull.”

Damage control

Siva was referring to the latest development in the sensational murder case involving Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu, who was killed in Malaysia in 2006. She had threatened to blow the whistle on high-level corruption in the government's acquisition of two Scorpene submarines worth 1.34 billion euros or RM6.7 billion. The subs were ordered by Najib in his capacity as defense minister in 2002.

Najib has been accused of benefiting Perimekar, a tiny firm belonging to his friend Razak Baginda, with a side deal worth 114 million euros or RM570 million that civil rights groups insist was a kickback. Malaysian NGO SUARAM is trying to claim back on behalf of taxpayers the amount allegedly paid out by DCNS, the French vendor of the submarines, to the wrongdoers.

According to a sworn statement Bala made in 2008, Altantuya was trying to collect her US$500,000 share of the commission from Baginda, whom she helped to close the DCNS deal. But Baginda refused to pay up, and instead, hired Bala to stop her from harassing him.

“It is ridiculous to go over there. The process will involve a lot of cost and a waste of taxpayers' money," Najmuddin told the press on Saturday in a bid to help the MACC counter the storm of criticism that has erupted since its Wednesday announcement that it had been advised by the Attorney-General not to go.

No money for London trip but enough for Perimekar

The MACC has couried a list of questions to Bala and his lawyers, who have already gone to London ahead of the meeting scheduled for Monday and Tuesday at the Holiday Villa.

Bala has lashed out at the MACC for backtracking and vowed to go ahead with a press conference scheduled for July 7 despite the commission's no-show. He is expected to reveal further details and perhaps clarify some of the points he revealed in his 2008 statutory declaration (see below).

The former police officer is also scheduled to go to Paris where he has been invited by the French authorities to help in their corruption probe on the submarines acquired by Malaysia.

"We totally reject Najmuddin's argument. If the cost of air fare, board and lodging in London for three MACC officers is too exorbitant, then how did the government manage to find the billions to buy the Scorpenes and pay the hundreds of millions to Perimekar," said Sivarasa, who is also MP for Subang.

“The attitude of the French authorities and that of our MACC cannot be more contrasting. MACC should take a leaf from their foreign counterpart and insist on putting the people's interest first. They have to behave more professionally."

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