‘Actors of influence’ in Najib government named in Wikileaks cable

By Yow Hong Chieh | May 19, 2011
The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 — US diplomatic cables leaked and published on Malaysia Today earlier this evening have singled out 19 key business leaders as “actors of influence” in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s inner circle.

The cable, written to help the US State Department “examine Najib’s emerging administration and policy decisions”, was the first to be published on the popular blog after it signed a memorandum of understanding with whistleblower site Wikileaks on Monday.

Ethos Capital chairman and partner Rohana Mahmood topped the list of corporate giants, with the cable noting that she appeared “connected in some manner to most of the companies associated with Najib (picture)”.

“Among the 19 key business leaders listed, Rohana Mahmood stands out as deeply embedded in the Najib family’s commercial interests,” the cable said.

Rohana co-founded the now-dormant Malaysian Strategic Research Centre with another close Najib aide, Abdul Razak Baginda, who was acquitted in October 2008 of abetting in the murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shariibuu.

The opposition has repeatedly alleged that Altantuya, who helped secure the US$1 billion (RM3 billion) Scorpene submarine deal, was killed over her personal relationship with Najib, a claim the prime minister has denied.

Other heavyweights who made the list were MMC Corp Bhd’s Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary, Berjaya Corp Bhd founder Tan Sri Vincent Tan and Hong Leong Group chairman Quek Leng Chan.

“MMC Corp Bhd Syed Mokhtar Albukharry [sic]… has significant business operations in Najib’s constituency and in the defence sector,” the cable said.

The Malaysian Insider understands that Syed Mokhtar has emerged as a major contributor to Umno’s war chest after some Chinese Malaysian tycoons, irked by lack of contracts under the Najib administration, cut funding to the party.

The Malaysian Insider also understands that Syed Mokhtar is fast gaining a chokehold over the logistics industry as he seeks to extend MMC Corp’s control over Johor Port and Tanjung Pelepas Port to the country’s premier port, Northport, and the port in Tanjung Bruas.

He already holds the reins to several other critical sectors including the rice import business through national rice supplier Bernas, and the gas distribution business through MMC Corp subsidiary Gas Malaysia.

Other strategic sectors in which Syed Mokhtar has a significant presence include the sugar trade through Tradewinds, the power production business via the nation’s largest independent power producer (IPP), Malakoff Corp, and the water treatment sector through Aliran Ihsan Resources.

MMC Corp is also the project delivery partner for the new Klang Valley mass rapid transit (KVMRT), the costliest infrastructure project in Malaysian history, with the consortium widely tipped to be awarded the tunnelling portion of the system’s construction.

Also included in the list were:

• Khazanah Nasional Bhd managing director Azman Mokhtar;

• Khazanah director Mohamed Azman Yahya, founder and chief executive of Symphony House Bhd;

• Johan Holdings Bhd chairman and chief executive Tan Kay Hock, who is also a member of the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA);

• Sapura Group’s Shahril Shamsuddin;

• Khazanah executive committee chairman and former Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAS) managing director Nor Yusof;

• Konsortium Transnational Bhd chairman and managing director Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh;

• CIMB Group executive director and former Economic Planning Unit (EPU) consultant Dr Gan Wee Beng;

• Ethos Capital co-founder Omar Mustapha Ong, Najib’s former special assistant;

• Paramount Corporation Bhd managing director and chief executive Teo Chiang Quan;

• TH Group Bhd managing director Lei Lin Thai;

• Mamee Double Decker Bhd chief executive Pang Tee Chew;

• Multi Vest Resources Bhd (MVest) chief executive Kenneth Eswaran, who the cable said was close to Najib’s wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor;

• Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) Holdings Bhd chief executive Bakke Salleh; and

• Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT) chief Lodin Wok Kamarudin

The leaked cable, written prior to Najib’s confirmation as prime minister, follows the publication of a series of secret exchanges between Washington and the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur in Asia Sentinel detailing US concerns over the trial of the two policemen accused of killing Altantuya.

The cables showed that US diplomats’ misgivings about the trial, which they suggested would be subject to “prosecutorial misconduct” and delays to drive the high-profile murder case from the public eye.

“Perceived irregularities on the part of prosecutors and the court, and the alleged destruction of some evidence, suggested to many that the case was subject to strong political pressure intended to protect Najib,” a cable dated January 24, 2007 said.

Altantuya was murdered in October 2006 by two of Najib’s bodyguards, Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri, 30, and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, 35, who were pronounced guilty in April 2009.

Najib is currently on a week-long tour of the US to enhance trade and investment ties between the two countries.

  1. #1 by AliAhKongAnup on Friday, 20 May 2011 - 4:27 am

    wow jibby has his cake and gets to eat it too. this just confirms high offices in malaysia are direct paths to riches at the expense of the people. in fact for many malays, umno is the track to being set of life.

You must be logged in to post a comment.