Umno’s unscrupulous vendetta against Suaram

by John Berthelsen
Asia Sentinel
Monday 10 September 2012

Media Monitor

CPI foreword

During the past few months, Umno and its hatchet organizations and supporters have launched a concerted series of attacks on Suaram, the human rights organization. The latest of these attacks have involved the despicable use of what should be politically neutral state authorities such as the Companies Commission, social security agency Perkeso and the Department of Inland Revenue to investigate allegations of irregularities in the management of the organization.

Clearly these allegations have been concocted by politically partisan parties but are given legitimacy by the use of state bodies to pursue selective and unwarranted prosecution of targeted individuals and organizations. This modus operandi of state-sanctioned prosecution has been repeatedly used by Umno and is one main reasons for the ruling party’s stranglehold on power over the past 50-odd years.

In the case of Suaram, the objective of such attacks is to discredit and ultimately destroy this leading NGO which has been pushing for truth and transparency in the multi-billion ringgit procurement of materiel, specifically Malaysia’s purchase of two Scorpene submarines.

Suaram’s probe are connected with the massive bribes and kickbacks allegedly paid by the French naval defence company DCNS.
Only the Umno version of the case against Suaram has so far been permitted to appear in our national and other mainstream media. It is a version that needs to be dissected and subjected to public scrutiny to uncover its odious political agenda. Not to do so is to fail in our civic duty.

In the article below, we are linking a recent article in the Asia Sentinel which traces the roots of the covert ‘war’ against Suaram and explains why Umno is so determined and anxious to take the NGO down.
Umno’s underhanded vendetta against Suaram must be challenged, resisted and not allowed to succeed.

The Centre for Policy Initiatives calls on Malaysians of conscience to voice their concern and opposition to this Umno attempt to kill off a patriotic Malaysian NGO that has consistently fought for justice, democracy and human rights in the country.


Malaysia’s UMNO Goes After A Critic
Written by John Berthelsen
Thursday, 06 September 2012

Never mind 150 million euros in bribes, a dead woman and a global scandal, go for the whistle-blower’s throat

In November of 2009, Suaram, the Kuala Lumpur-based human rights NGO, asked a French investigative law firm to look into what appeared to be huge bribes and kickbacks paid to Malaysian politicians by the French state-owned defense company DCN and its subsidiaries for the 2002 purchase of two submarines and the lease of a third.

The story was complicated by the sensational 2006 death of a Mongolian translator and party girl, Altantuya Shaariibuu, who was shot by two of then-Defense Minister Najib Tun Razak’s bodyguards and her body was blown up with military explosives. While the bodyguards were convicted of her for-hire killing, the court appeared to have actively suppressed any mention of who allegedly paid the two to kill her, raising Suaram’s concerns that there would be no justice delivered.

In the intervening three years, Suaram’s request to the law firm, headed by the Paris-based William Bourdon, resulted in a probe that exposed nearly 150 million euros in questionable funds paid to a close friend of Najib Tun Razak, now Malaysia’s prime minister.

Eventually, when a Paris-based investigating magistrate began to examine the evidence, the court turned up voluminous memos, emails and other documents from a raid on DCN’s offices indicating that massive bribes had been paid with the full knowledge of Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister, Mahathir Mohamad, then the prime minister of Malaysia, and Najib, who had negotiated the purchase. The evidence detailed a host of other sleazy dealings.

Some 133 documents listing the alleged criminal dealings were obtained independently by Asia Sentinel and posted here on June 25 on the Internet. Although the documents are in French, those who do not speak the language can get them onto their computer screens and click on Google Translate. While the grammar is somewhat primitive, their meaning is very clear. Those who do not want to bother may read two stories that Asia Sentinel published on the subject on 25 June. They can be found here and here.

The publication of the documents kicked off a storm in France and Malaysia. But what the publication of the French documents or the investigation did not do was spur any probe of the purported criminal activities in Malaysia.

What it did do, however, was to precipitate an unprecedented attack by a wide range of pro-government bloggers, ruling coalition politicians and others on the reputation and integrity of Suaram, and by extension against Asia Sentinel for printing the documents.

Suaram, an acronym for Suara Rakyat Malaysia, or Voice of the Malaysian People, was born in the wake of the infamous 1987 Operation Lalang ordered by Mahathir to use the Internal Security Act to jail 108 opposition members, union officials, activists and others. Suaram was created to work for the abolishment of the ISA and to protect the rights of those who had been jailed and others like them. Suaram insists that it is a nonpartisan organization although its leaders do include many opposition members including Kua Kia Soong, a former Democratic Action Party member of parliament who was detained for more than a year under the ISA, Syed Husin Ali, currently deputy president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat, Anwar’s party, and many others.

Cynthia Gabriel, the Suaram director, has particularly borne the brunt of the attacks. “If you ask me, they are spinning, just spinning, blackening our name, attempting to cause disrepute so that the public will lose trust in us,” Gabriel said in an interview.

In particular, she said, her organization has been falsely accused of money laundering and terrorism by a lawyer for the ruling United Malays National Organization.

In addition, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, the domestic trade, cooperatives and consumerism minister and a prominent member of the United Malays National Organization, also called the reform organization’s accounts were “highly suspicious” and demanded an investigation. Accordingly, Suaram has become a target for Malaysia’s Companies Commission, the Social Security Administration, UMNO, the Inland Revenue, the controversial Malay supremacy organization Perkasa, and the UMNO-owned newspapers Utusan Malaysia and the New Straits Times, Gabriel said.

In July the companies commission attempted to raid Suaram’s offices – without a valid warrant — despite the fact that the NGO had already agreed to produce all the documents required for the commission’s investigation.

Suaram reaffirmed its intent to cooperate with the authorities for documents although the companies commission has neither asked for the documents nor notified the organization it was under investigation. That was followed by the Social Security Administration’s demand on Aug. 3 to produce a list of documents by Aug. 30 although the officer in charge was “clueless to our presence even after being shown the letter sent to us which was signed off by none other than himself,” Suaram said in a press release signed by Nalini Elumalai, the organization’s executive director.

One blog, “the Unspinners,” accused Suaram of being an agent of the US Central Intelligence Agency, presumably to overthrow the country, and of “foreign subversion” despite the fact that Malaysia is one of the US’s staunchest allies in the region and that US soldiers train on its soil.

The popular blog Rocky’s Bru, written by Ahirudin bin Attan, a former editor of a variety of UMNO-owned publications, spent days on the question of why Suaram and Asia Sentinel were publishing the documents. A flock of other blogs have asked the some questions. The Unspinners demanded that “Don’t bullshit about the submarine case. Suaram have no proof and their facts are all wrong! They are slanderous.”

Unfortunately what none of the bloggers, politicians, government bureaucrats or newspapers have been able to refute is the 133 documents themselves that were presented by French police to the French investigating magistrate. They were not created by Suaram’s lawyers or Suaram or Asia Sentinel. The bulk of them came from DCN’s files and they dealt with Malaysian contacts. They were presented to the court on April 7,2010 by investigators from the anti-organized crime unit of the French Directorate of Judicial Police, not Suaram, not Suaram’s lawyers and not by Asia Sentinel.

Taken together, they reveal allegations of attempted blackmail, bribery, influence peddling, misuse of corporate assets and concealment, among other allegations, both in France and Malaysia. They tie Altantuya Shaariibuu to the case despite numerous protestations by the critics that she had never visited France or had anything to do with the submarine transaction.

The documents indicate that DCN and its subsidiaries steered the money to two companies controlled by Prime Minister Najib’s best friend, Abdul Razak Baginda, in contravention of the OECD convention on bribery by routing the money through companies controlled by Jean-Marie Boivin, the former DCN finance director, who stepped out of the defense contractor to in effect become the thin wall of insulation between DCN and the Malaysian officials who got the money.

As much as UMNO and the UMNO cronies would like to discredit Suaram, the one thing they can’t discredit is those documents. But they can certainly be expected to keep trying.

  1. #1 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 - 9:59 am

    UMNO supports hooliganism. Mat Rempits.
    UMNO supports racism. Perkasa.
    UMNO supports violence. Stone throwers.

    UMNO goons – top to bottom.
    “UMNO, Rotten to the core” – Mahathir.

  2. #2 by Bigjoe on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 - 10:07 am

    I think everyone knows its about revenge for Scorpene work.

    The hope for Suaram to ultimately to break open the Scorpene case had been growing and strangely the move to use CCM, not well known to be politically manipulated before, has not met with more outrage yet.

    What has come to fore is that Ismail Sabri, from Bera Pahang, really is the lead on this, and also the key person who put Isa Samad in Felda. – it should really scare the daylight out of people…

  3. #3 by Cinapek on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 - 11:09 am

    “….They were presented to the court on April 7,2010 by investigators from the anti-organized crime unit of the French Directorate of Judicial Police, not Suaram, not Suaram’s lawyers and not by Asia Sentinel…..”

    While we expect the Malaysian authorities to turn a blind eye to this, my question is why are the French taking such a long time? The documents were presented in April 2010 and it is now 30 months later and yet not a peep. Is the French also suppressing this for their own interests? After all why do they want to bother with a bunch of natives in the Far East?

  4. #4 by Cinapek on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 - 11:17 am

    Najib and Co. can deny until they are blue in the face but everyone knows this is a vendetta to shut up the whistleblowers. They have also used the state institutions to go after Rafizi for his expose’ of the NFC scandal.

    It is not as simple as just shutting these whistleblowers up. These actions are also meant to intimidate and cow any would-be whistleblower into silence. Just look at the high handed manner they used against the two teens for mooning over the PM and his beloved wife’s pictures during the Janji Demokrasi rally. It was clearly done with handcuffs and all to send a message to any future opposition to UMNO that this will be the type of punishment UMNO will dish out. Mooning over the PM’s picture -Sedition indeed!? What madness!!

  5. #5 by SENGLANG on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 - 11:31 am

    Those acts will further enhance many people’s resolute to vote BN out the next GE. Be patient time is coming very soon.

  6. #6 by Godfather on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 - 11:37 am

    Some UMNO leaders, Mamakthir included, are aghast at how amateurish Najib’s boys have behaved in trying to protect their boss. The more you try to suppress the information on the scorpene scandal, the more curious the rakyat becomes, and every bit of information is magnified and transmitted far and wide.

    Having said this, France is not in a hurry to push for anything that could potentially jeopardize French business interests in Bolehland. In the past few years, billions of ringgit of new contracts have been awarded to French companies like Alstom. Almost all of TNB’s new contracts and Syed Mokhtar’s power contracts have been awarded to Alstom. A major LRT contract has also been awarded to a French company. Is this Najib’s way of telling the French that they must tread carefully, or is this evidence that the French have Najib by the b@lls ?

  7. #7 by Godfather on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 - 11:39 am

    The persistent rumour is that Singapore’s Special Branch has a video capture of Najib and the Mongolian visiting a jewelry fair. This may account for the fact that Singapore-Bolehland relations have never been better !

  8. #8 by yhsiew on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 - 1:55 pm

    Umno’s vendetta against Suaram is in vain as the rakyat have more faith in Suaram than Umno.

  9. #9 by yhsiew on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 - 2:30 pm

    ///…and explains why Umno is so determined and anxious to take the NGO down.///

    Of course they are determined and anxious to take the NGO down as any further revelation of the Scorpene submarines purchase by the French court will affect the survival of Umno and his political future and in the worst case, he may be slapped with a jail term should PR be voted to federal power in the forthcoming general election.

  10. #10 by monsterball on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 - 4:17 pm

    Con men..robbers and thieves are always ..unscrupulous.
    They have no dignities…fooling Malaysians..especially keep fooling their own race.
    Malaysians mouths kept tight lips…no choice…police and laws also controlled by the rouges…..UNTIL 12th GE….walla…the bricks of the crook’s houses.. keep tumbling down .
    People Power keep pushing them down.

  11. #11 by drngsc on Wednesday, 12 September 2012 - 12:01 am

    When the crime is politically motivated, the solution is political too. So sorry Suaram, they are after you because you have told the truth. Your sacrifice and struggle is for all of us.
    All of us will work very hard, to change the government and solve your problem. Your solution is change the government through the ballot box.

    We must change the tenant at Putrajaya. GE 13 is coming. First to GE 13, then to Putrajaya.

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

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