Bersih to snub Hanif-led probe panel

By Clara Chooi
The Malaysian Insider
May 30, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, May 30 — Bersih has joined the Bar Council in refusing to participate in the “Hanif panel” investigating police violence in the April 28 rally for electoral reforms, saying the probe would be “seriously flawed” under Tun Hanif Omar’s chairmanship.

Bersih co-chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan repeated the council’s view that Hanif’s involvement in the panel, following the latter’s criticism of Bersih 3.0 protesters as communist sympathisers, would affect the impartiality of the investigation.

“Our stand has not changed. It is not personal, we have nothing personal against Tun Hanif but we think it is seriously flawed as he is chairing it (the panel).

“Justice must be seen to be done and he has already made a pronouncement about Bersih in a negative light, so we think he should not even be there (in the panel), let alone to chair it,” she told The Malaysian Insider yesterday.

Following the Bersih 3.0 sit-in on April 28, Hanif alleged that communist sympathisers had participated in the rally and agreed with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s claim that the demonstration was an attempt to oust the present government.

Justice must be seen to be done and he has already made a pronouncement about Bersih in a negative light”

Despite his views, Hanif was later appointed to lead Putrajaya’s six-man investigation panel on allegations of widespread police violence during the rally.

Ambiga also took the same view as the Bar Council on the legal standing of the panel, which she said could not be compared with the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam).

She also pointed out that Suhakam was already conducting its own inquiry into Bersih 3.0, and it was not necessary to duplicate the process of investigation.

“And what powers does this (independent) panel have? What is its legal standing? Since Suhakam has said they will hold an inquiry, this is where we (Bersih) will be concentrating our efforts,” she said.

Hanif said on Monday that he was willing to meet the Bar Council as well as Bersih leaders as part of the panel’s investigation, adding that he wanted the inquiry team to be given a chance to carry out its duties without “suspicion” from any parties.

“With regards to concerns that there may be several parties like the Bar Council and Bersih who are unco-operative, I would like to state that the panel is only an alternative channel for those who want to co-operate willingly.

“I am prepared to meet the Bar Council or any other parties, including going to their office, for (everyone’s) mutual benefit,” Hanif had said in a statement.

Bar Council vice-president Christopher Leong told The Malaysian Insider yesterday that the council would not participate in the panel’s investigation, saying it was pointless to do so when Suhakam was also conducting its own probe.

“We do not see the purpose to duplicate the process… we already said earlier that we would participate in Suhakam’s inquiry. There is no public purpose served by duplicating the enquiry process,” he said.

The Najib administration had formed a bi-partisan parliamentary select committee for electoral reforms after Bersih 2.0 last July, which agreed on 22 recommendations for the Election Commission (EC).

But Bersih and opposition parties had argued the recommendations do not cover cleaning up the electoral rolls to prevent fraud and the alleged existence of “phantom voters”.

Despite complaints of gerrymandering over the years, the nascent opposition pact Pakatan Rakyat (PR) won 82 federal seats and five state governments in Election 2008, which Barisan Nasional said was proof of clean and fair elections.

  1. #1 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Wednesday, 30 May 2012 - 8:51 am

    Indoctrinated by BTN for decades to fear even its own shadow and to create imaginary foes at every blink of the eye, umno now firmly believes that Bersih is all about toppling the umno gobermen by force. Of course we could see neither sense nor logic nor substance in that belief. For you see how could a supposedly to-be-toppled-gobermen continue to monkey about in public day after day – engaging in stupidity like performing funeral rites to signify the ‘death’ of an opposition leader, like displaying the fatty tissues on their backsides, like flipping patties, like setting up mock penal to investigate the bersih rally etc etc.

    Pordah. Ni semua dah melampau sangat. No one will ever buy your story. Not even if it is free and comes with free gifts. Of course they will collect the gifts but they will throw the story into the bin. So nope, people will not give your their nambekai.

  2. #2 by k1980 on Wednesday, 30 May 2012 - 8:52 am

    The Hanif-led probe panel should investigate Jibby first

    More Trouble over Subs for Najib
    Written by John Berthelsen
    TUESDAY, 29 MAY 2012

    How much did you say that sub cost? Bangkok press conference set for tomorrow expected to deliver more details of scandal

    Joseph Breham, a French lawyer who has spent the past two years pursuing allegations of massive bribes in connection with the Malaysian purchase of submarines from the French defense contractor DCNS, is expected to deliver fresh details of the scandal tomorrow in Bangkok.

    The Malaysia-based reform organization Suaram, which asked French prosecutors to look into the submarine scandal in April 2010, has called a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand at 2 pm for Breham reportedly to present fresh revelations to reporters.

    The press conference is being called in Bangkok instead of Malaysia because Breham’s associate, William Bourdon, was unceremoniously expelled from the country after describing details of the case to a dinner sponsored by Suaram in Penang. Breham sought a work visa to come to Malaysia for the current event but apparently no action has been taken on his visa, so Suaram decided to move the press conference to Bangkok.

    There appears to be a growing possibility that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak could be indicted in France for complicity in the case. Central to the inquiry is alleged illegal commissions that were paid out to Malaysian officials and politicians, which have been deemed illegal and categorized as bribes, after France became a signatory to the OECD convention.

    Earlier, Cynthia Gabriel, the director of Suaram, said prosecutors are in possession of more than 150 documents that tie Najib directly to the scandal. Najib was appointed minister of defense in 1991 and oversaw a series of extensive defense purchases of Russian Sukhoi jets, coastal defense vessels and other equipment. Gabriel told the Malaysian website Malaysiakini that the press conference is expected to “reveal further damning details from the initial findings of the prosecutors and to announce the latest developments surrounding the case,” adding that it would “help fill in the vacuum of information on gross corrupt and illegal practices involved in arms procurement in the name of Malaysia’s national security.”

    The most controversial of Najib’s purchases was the US$1 billion paid for two Scorpene-class diesel submarines, for which a company called Peremikar Sdn Bhd, owned by one of Najib’s closest friends, Abdul Razak Baginda, received a €114 million commission that critics have charged was a kickback that made its way into the hands of Malaysian politicians.

    So far, the case has gained precious little traction in Malaysia despite nearly six years of sensational revelations involving bribes of hundreds of millions of euros to Malaysian politicians including Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak when he served as defense minister, and the murder for hire by two of Najib’s bodyguards of a 28-year-old Mongolian woman named Altantuya Shaariibuu. Najib has maintained consistently favorable poll ratings and runs well ahead of the United Malays National Organization, the country’s biggest political party, which he heads.

    Malaysia’s mainstream news media, which are wholly owned by the component parties of the national ruling coalition, have worked assiduously to bury the story although it has been reported extensively by the country’s ferociously active internet press and bloggers. With the press conference being held in Bangkok, and expected to be attended by journalists from the international press, it remains to be seen if Najib’s luck holds out.

    The revelations have picked up in recent months with the appointment of investigating magistrates Roger Le Loire and Serge Tournaire at the Paris Tribunal de Grande Instance, Asia Sentinel reported in April that investigators believe that at least some of €36 million funneled from a DCNS subsidiary through a Hong Kong-based company called Terasasi Hong Kong Ltd. ended up in the pockets of Najib. A handwritten note found in DCNS files said “Razak” wanted the money paid quickly. Najib, of course, is known by his first name. But there are questions whether French defense officials would have known that in a country were people are addressed by their family names.

    Abdul Razak Baginda, a close Najib friend and the former head of a Malaysian think tank who was at the center of a 2006 investigation into Altantuya’s death, is listed as one of the two directors of Terasasi, according to the Hong Kong Companies Registry. The other director is Abdul Malim Baginda, Baginda’s father. Perimekar Sdn Bhd., another company wholly owned by Razak Baginda, received €114 million in “commissions” in the purchase of the submarines. Investigators believe those funds were also directed to UMNO politicians.

    The two Armaris Scorpenes, named for the first prime minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, and Najib’s father, Tun Abdul Razak, are on duty in Malaysian waters.

    One of the intriguing questions being asked in Paris concerns whether investigators will become more aggressive in examining DCNS’s transactions after former French President Nicholas Sarkozy was turned out of office last month after he lost to the Socialist candidate, Francoise Holland. Sarkozy has repeatedly denied any role in a DCNS scandal that is vastly larger than the one in Malaysia. Beginning in the 1980s, DCNS, a state-owned weapons manufacturer, peddled subs and ships all over the planet including to India, Pakistan, Taiwan, Chile and Argentina as well as Malaysia. Some of the purchases have blown up in scandal and, as in Malaysia, in murder.

    In 2002, for instance 11 French engineers employed by DCNS were blown up in Pakistan in a bombing first thought to have been perpetrated by Islamic militants. The 11 were in Karachi to work on three Agosta 90 B submarines that the Pakistani military had bought in 1994, with payments to be spread over a decade. According to Reuters, commissions were promised to middlemen including Pakistani and Saudi Arabian nationals. Agosta is a subsidiary of DCNS.

    Two French magistrates, Marc Trevidic and Yves Jannier, who were looking into the case on behalf of the victims, said kickbacks ended up in the campaign funds of Edouard Balladur, the French prime minister and a rival of Jacques Chirac in the 1995 presidential election. Sarkozy was Balladur’s campaign manager as well as budget minister when the contract for the subs was signed.

    Although Sarkozy and Balladur have both denied any wrongdoing, a top-secret memo turned up in October 2008 from DCN, which was state-owned at the time of the alleged kickbacks. Copies of the memo were shown on French television. The memo reportedly said France had stopped paying the bribes after Chirac won the 1995 elections despite requests by Pakistani officials for several years afterwards. Eventually, according to the story, the Pakistanis eventually lost patience and orchestrated the attack on the Agosta engineers in retaliation.

    Another case involves the French company Thales, formerly Thompson-CSF, which sold six DCN-built La Fayette-class ‘stealth’ frigates to Taiwan in 1992 for US$2.8 billion. The warships, designated Kan Ding by Taiwan, were delivered between 1996 and 1998. The website DefenseNews reported that Taiwan is seeking US$882 million, down from US$1.12 billion on its claim against Thales, according to documents filed with the French market regulator Authorité des Marches Financiers.

    Taiwan’s claim, the website said, is based on allegations that Thales wrongfully paid commissions to agents in the sale of the frigates. Thales said in the filing that it and its industrial partner have consistently contested the claim. A Thales spokesman declined to comment beyond the information contained in the filing. Thales was prime contractor on the sale of the frigates, which were built by DCN.

  3. #3 by drngsc on Wednesday, 30 May 2012 - 8:53 am

    Which is what they want. You see how manipulative they are? They do not wish us to know the truth, who the people brutalisers are?, who ordered the closing of LRT and the firing of tear gas and water cannon into trapped citizens?
    They are afraid that the truth may come out. So they appointed Hanif and panel that you cannot sokong.
    That is our government.

    We must change the tenant at Putrajaya. GE 13 is coming. If no significant electoral reforms, first to Bersih 4.0, then to GE 13, then to Putrajaya.

    Change we must. Change we can. Change we will.

  4. #4 by Winston on Wednesday, 30 May 2012 - 9:54 am

    They are only toying with the Malaysian electorate.
    Let’s give them a tsunami worse than the one in Fukushima!
    Let’s show them who has the last laugh!

  5. #5 by Loh on Wednesday, 30 May 2012 - 10:03 am

    ///Bersih co-chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan repeated the council’s view that Hanif’s involvement in the panel, following the latter’s criticism of Bersih 3.0 protesters as communist sympathisers, would affect the impartiality of the investigation.///

    Only established the Hanif panel so that Hanif’s personal biased view could be made into the official position of the panel, and thus carry more weight. Najib may think that Malaysians are fools. Najib has learned to be a dictator and he cares less what people think about him, just as long as he got it right legally.

  6. #6 by Albert Choong on Wednesday, 30 May 2012 - 10:25 am

    All true and loyal Malaysians fully support the Bar Council and Bersih non-participation in “Hanif Panel” investigating police violence in the April 28 rally for electoral reforms. They opined that the probe would be “seriously flawed” under Tun Hanif Omar’s chairmanship following his criticism of Bersih 3.0 protesters as communist sympathisers. He had blown his impartiality even before the commencement of his investigation.

    I wonder whether he has such a photographic brain that he could recognize among the many thousands of protesters the few communist participants. And he had retired from the Force many years ago! So I assume he has a CPU brain being pre-programmed by his former masters. A PC is only a tool to serve its users as the CPU is programmed by competent human beings!

  7. #7 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 30 May 2012 - 10:26 am

    Bar Council/Bersih’s objections to so called independent panel to probe 28/4 are basically 3-fold:-
    1. panel not ‘independent’ being headed by Tun Hanif Omar (“THO”): its no aspersion to personal integrity/impartiality of THO but he’s disqualified/oughht to recuse cos’ of certain statements he made earlier (eg inflitration of communist sympathisers) which give rise to ossibility of bias;
    2. Suhakam is more proper body to conduct enquiry as it has “experience statutory mandate and legal framwork” including powers to call & receive evidence and to subpoena witnesses (which presumably the govt’s independent panel does not have).
    3. No reason for duplication from 2 bodies ie panel and Suhakam conducting same enquiry which may even confuse public further if they arrive at conflicting findings.

  8. #8 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 30 May 2012 - 10:47 am

    Of the 3 objections, the strongest is the 1st. All public enquiries of these nature are under our common law legal system subject to the Rule Against Bias. Its one of the twin pillars of Natural justice but the problem is that the people in power are selective and the choose to ignore the elephant in the room regarding why public enquiry led by THO under such circumstances is a non starter in terms of credibility. Our TDM once asked, whats so natural about Western Natural justice principles? This is the measure of the problem. The other 2 objections are however debatable. Suhakam had earlier conceded that it would allow the panel to probe first but reversed the position when the terms of reference of such panel were slow in coming out. However 10 terms of reference have finally be finalised and stated (as compared to Suhakam’s 3).

  9. #9 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 30 May 2012 - 10:48 am

    Whether Suhakam is a more proper body to enquire – its terms of enquiry are confined to human rights violations from police action on 28/4 and what recommendations to prevent it in future. They don’t exactly cover the other wider questions (terms of reference of the panel) regarding “the causation of the disorders at and around Dataran Merdeka” ; whether Bersih organisers had taken reasonable and adequate steps to preempt/prevent the ensuing fracasa as well as whether enforcement agency or agencies had adhered to proper and lawful procedures to address the fracas and what lessons may be drawn from this. The strongest argument is that Suhakam has institutional/legal framework to subpoena witnesses whose evidence is (presumably) on oath. The panel is wanting in this respect but it can be solved if the government invokes the establishment of a Royal Commission of Enquiry (under Commissions Act) that unlike the mere panel of enquiry has institutional/legal powers as adequate as Suhakam’s. This is provided the RCI is headed by someone else above suspicion of bias.

  10. #10 by drngsc on Wednesday, 30 May 2012 - 11:00 am

    By the way, Who is the present PM of Malaysia? Jib Ngor or Mad-hat-tir? I think it is also confusion at Putrajaya.

    Change we must. Change we can. Change we will.
    Change the tenant at Putrajaya.

  11. #11 by monsterball on Wednesday, 30 May 2012 - 3:14 pm

    He is a lawyer and so well educated.
    He should fully understand he is opposed by his peers…..yet he put out a pair of deaf ears and eyes….ignoring the equally educated Malaysians opposing him.
    He ignored politics for decades and today…he is supporting thieves and robbers….as if like before….do not co-operate with his corrupted policemen..his job as IGP will have majority senior officers making life difficult for him.
    This time…it is rewards that Najib has set he tune for him to dance.

  12. #12 by yhsiew on Wednesday, 30 May 2012 - 7:00 pm

    Ref #11

    maybe he will be given a highway contract that is worth billions of ringgit upon accomplishing the BN agenda.

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