PAKATAN’S UNACCEPTABLE TOLERANCE OF CORRUPTION

PAKATAN’S UNACCEPTABLE TOLERANCE OF CORRUPTION
Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 21 May 2016

A disturbing pattern is emerging. Pakatan leaders are so involved in their internal bickering they do not seem to realise what they are exposing about themselves. What is emerging appears to be a pattern of an unacceptable level of TOLERANCE of corruption within the Pakatan coalition itself…

PKR Secretary-general Rafizi Ramli’s most recent expose of corruption involving money and “women” for those wanting to deal with the Selangor government was made with the standard proviso that he “MIGHT take action unless…” He said he received the complaint from a “bonafide person that apart from money, now there are also requests for women when dealing with the state government”.

This is not the first time we are witnessing such a tolerance of corruption by Pakatan leaders in which the alleged corrupt person involved is given a CHOICE of following a course set out by the accusers in the coalition. We saw such a strategy at work during the gambit to get rid of the former Menteri Besar of Selangor Khalid Ibrahim when PKR leader Saifuddin Nasution waved a file of alleged corrupt practices over the Khalid’s head to force him to step down as MB. However, since the day Khalid did indeed step down as MB, we have heard nothing more of the alleged corruption scandals on which his removal was apparently based.

Does the former MB not have to face these allegations of corrupt practices anymore and does he not have to accept the consequences if found guilty? Did the tax payers of Selangor suffer any loss of their state revenue as a result of the alleged wrongdoing? If so, should he not have to pay these back to Selangor tax payers?

On the other hand, if the alleged corrupt practices are found to be concocted and untenable, do the Pakatan leaders who were responsible for such irresponsible ruses (including the frivolous Kajang Move) not have to face the consequences of their actions?

This is not all. During the so-called “Kajang Move”, the resignation of the Kajang ADUN to pave the way for the by-election seemed like a smooth and gallant act by the previous ADUN. In fact, insiders have intimated the fact that a similar file of alleged corruption was held over his head if he had not resigned willingly.

Zero tolerance of corruption

So what does this tell us about the attitude by the Pakatan leadership to corruption? They have shown us that they are prepared to tolerate corrupt practices as long as the guilty ones follow the coalition’s wishes. This is totally unacceptable.

In the reformed Malaysia that Malaysians yearn for, there must be zero-tolerance of corruption. We expect every case of corruption to be reported to the relevant authorities including the police, and nothing less than that.

Corrupt leaders and civil servants have to be accountable to the people. Furthermore, they have to pay back what they have corruptly obtained from the people and atone for their indiscretion. And this is irrespective of whether the amount of money involved is 2.6 billion in your personal bank account or 2.6 million that you paid for a house…

And just as the recently  proposed ‘anti-corruption’ module in education is unlikely to work unless it is taught by exemplars of integrity, all those in power would do well to remember that children will always model behaviours over words…

So watch your thoughts for they can become words, watch your words for they become actions!

INCONSISTENCY OF PAKATAN LEADERS OVER ANWAR’S CONVICTION

INCONSISTENCY OF PAKATAN LEADERS OVER ANWAR’S CONVICTION
Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser, 18 May 2016

I have already pointed out the sheer opportunism of the ‘Save Malaysia’ gambit by some of the Pakatan leaders in their Anti-Najib Coalition with Mahathir (7 Mar 2016) and their vain attempt to justify this move as a “united front” (2 April 2016). My description of this unholy alliance as “an audacious naivete” seems to ring a bell in Anwar’s recent letter from prison when he said: “I can’t help feeling flabbergasted by the simplistic assertions that with Najib’s removal we will be able to usher change towards democratic accountability.”

Anwar’s letter also raises another glaring mistake in this unholy alliance with Mahathir, namely, the gross inconsistency in the stand by these Pakatan leaders on Anwar’s conviction.

Despite the generous gestures shown toward Mahathir by his former detractors, including Anwar, Mahathir has not displayed any remorse for his past record and instead, repeated his scurrilous attacks on Anwar’s character.  Naturally, Anwar was hurt when this “humiliation, sadly did not elicit any response from my trusted colleagues.”

Let this also be a lesson to Anwar for initially falling for this opportunistic gambit: “It’s baffling to note that after working with Pakatan Harapan civil society and my trusted colleagues, he continued to pour scorn and venom against me!”

Thus, if these Pakatan leaders could be forgiven for their “audacious naivete” in working with Mahathir, there was no excuse for their continued alliance with the latter AFTER he repeated his prejudiced comments against Anwar. As to who is calling the shots in the Anti-Najib Coalition, this terse admonition by the Pakatan de facto leader says it all:

“But I resent the insensitivity in pressuring the president and in particular Nurul Izzah to pay respects to Tun M or attend his functions. You may want to appease him, but to demand such a sacrifice from my family, particularly after the recent scorn is the unkindest cut of all!”

No excuse for being unprincipled

Defence of their de facto Pakatan leader is only part of the equation; even more serious is the abandonment of their principles regarding Anwar’s conviction by the state.

Throughout Anwar’s sodomy trials, the Pakatan leaders had maintained that he was a “victim of political conspiracy and fabricated evidence”. When he was sent to jail for the second time, senior opposition parliamentarian Lim Kit Siang said: “It’s a day of infamy. It’s a shocking decision.” The PKR deputy president Azmin Ali labelled Anwar’s jail term “perverse”, an “injustice” and an “absolute disgrace”, while former Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenavasan likewise slammed the political conspiracy against Anwar. Amnesty International and other human rights groups have also condemned the charges against Anwar.

Hence by not condemning Mahathir for repeating his scurrilous attacks on Anwar’s character even AFTER the formation of the Anti-Najib Coalition, it exposes the Pakatan leaders’ inconsistent stand on Anwar’s innocence in his political trial.

What do we want and when do we want it?

First, the Pakatan leaders should demand an apology from the man who initiated the prosecution of Anwar in the first place when he was Prime Minister. Mahathir should be asked to forthwith withdraw his scurrilous attacks on Anwar. Failure to do so should result in him being booted out of the Anti-Najib Coalition.

The reform movement should then be redefined to target not just an individual but the political regime and political economic system that oppresses, divides and exploits the people.  The aim would not only be to call for Najib’s resignation but to change the racist and exploitative regime. Furthermore, reforms should target the neoliberal economic policies that were set in motion by none other than Mahathir in the early Eighties.

Najib has merely made more extreme the structures created by Mahathir to entrench the powers of the Executive, emasculate the democratic institutions and provide the means for private enrichment of the elite in this country. Racist and racial discriminatory policies were also entrenched by Mahathir in the early Eighties and further manipulated by Najib until today.

Thus, Anwar’s recent letter from prison should not be brushed aside as “an internal PKR matter”. It stirs up questions surrounding the Malaysian rakyat’s continuing struggle for truth, justice, dignity, consistency, democracy and human rights.

CAN HARAPAN POLITICIANS CLAIM TO REPRESENT 10,000 ISA DETAINEES?

CAN HARAPAN POLITICIANS CLAIM TO REPRESENT 10,000 ISA DETAINEES?
Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 28 March 2016

I read with incredulity and amusement that some of the Pakatan Harapan politicians at the ‘Save Malaysia’ rally had appointed themselves representatives of the more than 10,000 ISA detainees to forgive Mahathir for his authoritarian rule including use of detention without trial.

The first point of fact worth noting is that up until now, Mahathir has yet to apologize for his authoritarian record and to ask for forgiveness from any of the ISA detainees he incarcerated. The second point is of course the shameless gall of these politicians to arrogate to themselves the role of representating all these former ISA detainees!

The ISA games politicians play

Many politicians today wear their ISA detention like a badge of honour that they can display for maximum political mileage. To them, their ISA detention was bearable as long as it could be used in the advancement of their political careers. In fact, from my detention while at Kamunting, those politicians who were not yet married, who did not yet have their own families or minimally participated in family life had quite a good time there. During Operation Lalang, most of the members of the main political parties and large NGOs were not subjected to physical torture so they may be ready to forgive the man who now opposes the Prime Minister who stands in their political path. Some may even want to thank the former Prime Minister for helping to advance their political careers…

Can these politicians really speak for all of the more than 10,000 ISA detainees since 1960?

Do they represent Loh Meng Liang, who sadly departed last week, and who was detained for more than 16 years? He was my first roommate when we were taken to Kamunting in 1987. He stood for socialist principles that Mahathir’s government considered a threat to national security and saw more than 16 years of his life taken away for his socialist beliefs.

Do they represent Joshua Jamaluddin, the Malay convert to Christianity who suffered gross torture such as this: “On one occasion during interrogation, Inspector Yusoff forced me to strip naked and to enact the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Inspector Yusoff also forced me to crawl on the floor in a naked state for about 10 minutes…” (Kua Kia Soong, ‘445 Days under the ISA’, 1989:206) This is but a small part of the bestiality by the ISA torturers that Joshua was subjected to.

Do these politicians also represent Munawar Anees, the former confidant of Anwar Ibrahim? In his affidavit:

“Alas, the Malaysian dictator, Mahathir, under the growing burden of corruption and cronyism, conspired to halt the march of freedom. In order to build his fraudulent case against Anwar, Mahathir himself ordered my arrest. My kidnapping and detention by the infamous Malaysian Special Branch taught me how it feels to be forcibly separated from one’s wife and children. How it feels to be searched and seized, disallowed to make phone calls, handcuffed, blindfolded, stripped naked, driven in an animal cage, shaven bald, endlessly interrogated, humiliated, drugged, deprived of sleep, physically abused. What it’s like to be threatened, blackmailed, tormented by police lawyers, brutalized to make a totally false confession, hospitalized for a consequent heart ailment, and treated as a psychiatric patient with symptoms of Stockholm syndrome.” (Dr. Munawar Anees’ Story, http://dranees.org)

The details of his harrowing experience by these sub-human torturers can be gleaned from his affidavit on the internet. Have any of these Pakatan Harapan politicians asked Dr. Munawar Anees if he forgives Mahathir for the bestiality he went through?

The ISA has been a tool of state repression

The reality is that the ISA has been used as a political tool by the Malaysian state all these years to maintain their class rule. So it is not for the Pakatan Harapan politicians to forgive one man for using the ISA. Do they also forgive the entire ruling class represented in the Malaysian state? Maybe this form of political analysis is beyond the ken of these Harapan politicians…

The use of the ISA goes way back to the Independence days when the main threat to the ruling Alliance coalition was the Socialist Front. Do our present day politicians also claim to represent all those ISA detainees since 1960? Have our Pakatan Harapan politicians undergone the torture that many of these former Socialist leaders and activists had to undergo? The following is an excerpt from a hitherto unpublished statement by “political prisoners of Kawasan A, B, C”, dated 1 May 1969, a historic document released from Batu Gajah Detention Camp:

“1. We political detainees have undergone days and nights of endless interrogation which have inflicted grave toll on the mental condition of many detainees;

  1. During interrogation, we have been handcuffed, had our abdominal parts kicked, our heads bashed against the wall until they bled, and some have had to be hospitalised;
  2. We have had needles stuck in our fingernails and pencils used to squeeze our fingers between them;
  3. We have been burnt with cigarette lighters and hit with elastic bands, some have had nails inserted into their genitals;
  4. We have been asked to strip off our pants and to sit on open bottles;
  5. We have been made to take off our clothing and to stand before fans and air conditioners until we have passed out;
  6. The Banishment Law has been invoked to force political detainees out of the country, while those who do not accept banishment are kept on long-term detentions. Some at Seremban Detention Camp have already been detained for between ten to twenty years;
  7. We political prisoners here have been detained for between four to eight years without trial;
  8. The riot squad has been mobilised to storm our detention camp in order to force those who have refused to wear handcuffs when they leave the camp to do so. In the process, there has been bloodshed;
  9. Health and medical services are very poor in the camp. Those who leave for hospital treatment are forced to be handcuffed. After nine o’clock, we are forced into hot and stuffy cells…”

Forgiveness and impunity

Do I forgive Mahathir for taking away 445 precious days of my life from 1987 to 1989? On the one hand, I may forgive him if he apologises to me and if I am convinced that he has expressed contrition for his oppressive rule. To date, he has not publicly expressed a single word of apology to me or as far as I know, to any of the ISA detainees he put away under his rule.

On the other hand, while I may choose to forgive him for my ISA detention once I am convinced of his show of remorse, Mahathir still needs to account for the many financial and privatization scandals in which he lost up to (according to Barry Wain’s accounting) RM100 billion of the Malaysian people’s monies mainly to crony capitalists.

Our politicians need to know how to differentiate ‘forgiveness’ from ‘impunity”:

“Impunity arises from a failure by States to meet their obligations to investigate violations; to take appropriate measures in respect of the perpetrators, particularly in the area of justice, by ensuring that those suspected of criminal responsibility are prosecuted, tried and duly punished; to provide victims with effective remedies and to ensure that they receive reparation for the injuries suffered; to ensure the inalienable right to know the truth about violations; and to take other necessary steps to prevent a recurrence of violations.” (The First Principle of the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights through Action to Combat Impunity, submitted to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on 8 February 2005)

If our Pakatan Harapan politicians are not committed to combatting impunity, then to be consistent, they will also have to forgive Najib whenever he steps down from office and forget the 1MDB scandal and the 2.6 billion that went into the Prime Minister’s private account.

KUA KIA SOONG’S LATEST BOOK: ‘MODERATES & EXTREMISTS IN MALAYSIA’

KUA KIA SOONG’S LATEST BOOK:
‘MODERATES & EXTREMISTS IN MALAYSIA’, SUARAM 2016, 180 pages, RM28

 

“Any work by perhaps Malaysia’s most prolific public intellectual is a welcome addition to our very small corpus of contemporary scholarship… Kua Kia Soong has done a remarkable job on many diverse subjects… I have no hesitation in recommending his latest book, and hope that his prolific pen continues to write bravely and frequently.”
– Tommy Thomas, Senior lawyer in the Malaysian Bar

“For more than forty years Kua Kia Soong has been writing – with both wit and wisdom – about what ails Malaysia. His latest collection of essays takes off from the premise that the country is mired in religious and sectarian bigotry, deeply institutionalised racism, ‘national security’ as a cloak for authoritarianism and ravenous corruption. Malaysia needs audacious voices that speak without fear. In asking the right questions, his provocations open up the possibility of another kind of society, standing firmly on the side of rationality, truth, justice, democracy and human rights.”
– Gareth Richards, Gerakbudaya Bookshop, Penang

 

The rise of the far-right and the religious bigots in Malaysia has in turn given rise to a ‘Movement of Moderates’. In the body politic, espousing “moderation” becomes imprecise since it is an example of the kind of language that is also used by the powers-that-be to deal with those who uphold truth, justice and human rights. Malaysian society is fast becoming an Orwellian dystopia in which labels such as “moderates”, “extremists”, “national security”, “national harmony” and other fluffy terms have become relative and imprecise, depending on how they are defined by  the state and the judiciary.

In this collection of provocative essays, Dr Kua Kia Soong analyses the glaring issues as they have arisen in the current Malaysian political sphere. In his characteristic straight-talking and non-partisan approach, he takes to task the ruling Barisan Nasional and the alternative Pakatan Rakyat coalitions on these national and international issues. He calls for far-reaching reforms that recognize all citizens as equal and promote healthy ethnic relations, while dealing effectively with racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance in our society.

Dr Kua Kia Soong is director of the Malaysian human rights organization SUARAM. He was principal of the community-funded New Era College (2000-2008); Opposition MP for Petaling Jaya (1990-95); director of the Malaysian Chinese Research Centre (1985-90); political detainee under the ISA (1987-89); lecturer in Sociology at National University of Singapore (1978-79).

SUARAM STARTS LEGAL FUND TO PROBE SUBMARINE COMMISSIONS IN FRENCH COURTS

SUARAM STARTS LEGAL FUND TO PROBE SUBMARINE COMMISSIONS IN FRENCH COURTS

By Dr Kua Kia Soong, Director of SUARAM, 30 May 2011

#OpsScorpene Legal Fund-Payee Name: SUARA INISIATIF SDN BHD A/C No:0300 0065 200-Hong Leong Bank

SUARAM’s efforts to probe suspected commissions involved in the submarines purchase in the French courts are starting to bear fruit. The Malaysian courts have failed to shed light on the grisly murder of Altantuya and the reasons for her murder. Although two former bodyguards of the Prime Minister have been charged and sentenced, their motives for the murder have not been probed by the Malaysian court.

SUARAM believes that there is more to the murder of Altantuya and that what is in question is at least RM500 million in commissions associated with the RM7 billion Scorpene submarines deal. This has grave consequences for both Malaysian and French tax payers.

SUARAM applied through its French lawyers as a civil party for a judicial review in November 2009. As Malaysia’s leading human rights organization, it has always fought for human rights and “People before Profits” issues. Furthermore, SUARAM’s latest publication, “Questioning Arms Spending in Malaysia: From Altantuya to Zikorsky” by its director, Dr Kua Kia Soong, gives it the locus standi for filing this petition in the French courts.

This case concerns the sale of two Scorpène submarines and an Agosta submarine to the Malaysian government, a contract worth approximately one billion euros, that was signed in 2002 with the Malaysian DCNS (former DCN, Department of Naval Construction) and Thalès.

The French Inquisitorial Judicial System

Unlike the British (and Malaysian) system, the French inquisitorial system has an examining or investigating judge. The examining judge can conduct investigations into serious crimes or complex enquiries. As members of the judiciary, they are independent of the executive branch. The judge questions witnesses, interrogates suspects, and orders searches or other investigations. The examining judge’s goal is to gather facts, and as such their duty is to look for all the evidence. Both the prosecution and the defence may request the judge to act and may appeal the judge’s decisions before an appellate court.

Judges in the Paris Prosecution Office have been probing a wide range of corruption charges involving similar submarine sales and the possibility of bribery and kickbacks to top officials in France, Pakistan, Taiwan and other countries, including Malaysia. Recently, Parisian prosecutors, led by investigating Judges Francoise Besset and Jean-Christophe Hullin, have been investigating allegations involving senior French political figures and the sales of submarines and other weaponry to governments all over the world.

SUARAM’s latest application, once approved by the court, would allow it to become party to the enquiry and have official access to every element of the enquiry, including access to the evidence which allegedly links DCNS to the issuing of commissions to government officials. The case is still at the enquiry phase and the new application is to upgrade it to the “instruction phase” where an investigative judge would be appointed.

Malaysia’s Scorpene Submarines’ Scandal

This scandal involving Malaysia’s purchase of two Scorpene submarines is of concern also to French tax payers because it involves France’s biggest defense conglomerates, the state-owned shipbuilder DCN. DCN’s subsidiary Armaris manufactures the Scorpene submarines sold to Malaysia among other countries.

It has already been brought up in the Malaysian Parliament that €114 million (RM500 million) has been paid to a Malaysia-based company called Perimekar, for “coordination and support services” for the submarines transaction. Perimekar was wholly owned by another company, KS Ombak Laut Sdn Bhd, which in turn was controlled by Najib’s aide, Razak Baginda. Baginda’s wife Mazlinda was the principal shareholder in this company. Perimekar was registered in 2001, a few months before the signing of the contracts for the sale and the company did not appear to have the financial resources to complete the contract. None of the directors and shareholders of Perimekar have any experience in the construction or maintenance of submarines.

Altantuya Shaariibuu, a 28-year-old Mongolian translator and Razak Baginda’s jilted lover, had allegedly participated in negotiations over the purchase of the submarines. By her own admission in a letter found after her death, she was attempting to blackmail Razak Baginda for US$500,000. She was shot in October 2006 and her body was blown up with military explosives by two bodyguards attached to Najib’s office after Razak Baginda went to Najib’s chief of staff, Musa Safri, for help in stopping her demands.

What were Altantuya’s Killers’ Motives?

After being acquitted in November 2008 under questionable circumstances of participating in her murder, Razak Baginda left the country for England. The bodyguards were convicted but no motive was ever established for their actions.

The submarine deal was never brought up in court during the murder trial which saw prosecutors, defense attorneys and the judge judiciously keeping Najib’s name out of the proceedings.

A private detective hired by Razak Baginda to protect him from Altantuya’s advances filed a statutory declaration after the trial indicating that Najib had actually been the victim’s lover and had passed her on to Razak Baginda. He later retracted this story in a second statutory declaration. The detective, P. Balasubramaniam, said later that he was forced to leave Kuala Lumpur. He eventually emerged from hiding in India to say that he had been offered RM5 million (US$1.57 million) by a businessman close to Najib’s wife to leave town. He also said he had met Najib’s younger brother, Nazim and was told to recant his testimony.

Contradictions in Malaysian Government’s Story

From the investigations so far, there appears to be contradictions in the Malaysian government’s side of the story regarding the payment of 114 euros to the Malaysian company Perimekar. The Deputy Minister of Defence had told the Malaysian Parliament that this was paid by the French. According to sources cited by the plaintiffs, it was not the company Armaris that paid 114 million euros to Perimekar, but rather the Malaysian government, “with the sole purpose of circumventing the OECD Convention.”

This contract was signed in 2002 after the OECD Convention came into force in

France in 2000, which punishes corruption of foreign public officials with ten

years’ imprisonment and a 150,000 euro fine. Following this complaint, a

preliminary investigation was conducted by the prosecution: the hearings were made and searches were made at the premises of DCNS and Thalès.

As was the case for contracts won by the DCN for submarines to Pakistan and

frigates to Taiwan, there are increasing suspicions of “reversed commissions” to

French political parties.

After Suaram had filed an initial suit at the Paris court in 2009, the state prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin then opened a preliminary investigation. At the time, it was suspected that a bribe of 114 million euros had been paid by the company Armaris (a subsidiary of DCNI and Thalès) to Malaysian parties through the company Perimekar.

DCN Officer Confirms Commissions

In September 2008, during the course of the Karachi Case also involving DCN, the note books of Gérard-Philippe Menayas, former chief financial officer of DCN, who was indicted in the case, also confirmed the suspicions of hidden commissions. In his memorandum, Menayas mentioned the Malaysian submarine contract as follows:

“Since the entry into force of the OECD Convention regarding the fight against

corruption in September 2000, only two contracts have been signed; the first

with India, and the second with Malaysia in 2002. These two contracts are the

result of commercial actions undertaken prior to the OECD Convention.

Furthermore, they are both suspected of non-compliance with this Convention. I

have evidence to support this”.

(http://www.rue89.com/2011/04/02/sous-marins-malaisiens-la-piste-des-retrocommissions-se-precise)

Furthermore, it appears there were three commissions instead of one paid for the sale of submarines. In addition to that of 114 million euros, there are two further

instalments, one paid by DCN to the commercial networks of Thalès, for over 30 million euros, corresponding to “commercial fees relating to the negotiation and execution of the contract”. This second commission was paid by Thalès to a recipient, who remains unknown, in order to convince the Malaysian government of the need to conduct additional work. The third commission was for 2.5 million euros.

According to Gerard Philippe Menayas:

“Until the OECD Convention against corruption came into force in France, no

contract for the sale of defence equipment to an emerging country could take

place without the payment of commissions to policy makers (euphemistically

called ‘commercial fees for exports’).”

Finally, according to the complaint filed by the firm Bourdon, Suaram’s lawyer,

the company Gifen, which was established by Jean-Marie Boivin in Malta,

intervened in the negotiations “so as to facilitate the money transfers in this

case”, and particularly finance the trips of Baginda and Altantuya.

SUARAM Appeals for Legal Funds

SUARAM hopes the French justice system will reveal more than what the Malaysian judicial system has failed to deliver so far and will bring justice and closure to the family of Altantuya, and force the French and Malaysian Governments to account to their peoples regarding the commissions on the submarines contract.

When the case goes to the French court, the prosecution can then contact an examining magistrate and the trial can start. SUARAM’s case in the French courts will involve considerable legal fees. Thus far, the French lawyers have offered their services pro bono. When the case proper begins, we will need to afford the necessary legal fees. Thus we are appealing to justice-loving and socially conscious Malaysian tax payers to contribute to this submarine commissions legal fund in order that we can retrieve this RM500 million of questionable commission from the Scorpene submarine deal and shed some light on why Altantuya was murdered.

#OpsScorpene Legal Fund-Payee Name: SUARA INISIATIF SDN BHD A/C No:0300 0065 200-Hong Leong Bank