Koh Jun Lin
The government should investigate companies involved in the Scorpene scandal instead of harassing Suaram, said its director Kua Kia Soong.
“It should be companies like Terasasi that should be investigated, but it turned out to be Suaram – the whistleblower – that is investigated,” Kua lamented at a press conference today.
He said the French had done Malaysia “a big favour” by investigating the French defence company DCNS and the government should act on its findings.
Suaram was nearly raided by the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM) as part of a “routine inspection” yesterday, but the raid was aborted when the notice of inspection was found to be flawed.
The raid followed complaints from the NGO Jaringan Melayu Malaysia, whose president Azwanddin Hamzah said that Suaram was registered as a company, rather than as an NGO.
“We don’t know whether CCM is responding to organisations like JMM, but this country is in danger of becoming a ‘mob-o-cracy’. They are responding to mobs.
“Whenever there is a mob that makes a police statement or a press conference, institutions in the state respond… whereas what we have revealed recently is the result of an investigation by the French tribunal in Paris. It is a judicial inquiry,” Kua said.
Why Suaram registered as a company
He said Suaram was registered 23 years ago as a company because of difficulties it and several groups faced in registering as societies.
The sum alleged to be Suaram’s profits, he added, was in fact from donations and grants meant for its operations.
“We have nothing to hide, as far as we are concerned. We are only too proud to say that Suaram has existed all these years based on donations from the public,” Kua said, adding that the company’s accounts were audited and submitted to the SSM annually, in accordance with the law.
To a question, he said Suaram would be willing to register with the Registrar of Societies as an NGO if it was given the assurance that its application would be approved.
Kua also rubbished allegations that Suaram was biased against BN, maintaining that its reports on human rights issues were “fair and objective” and that the organisation levelled criticisms against Pakatan Rakyat-led states as well.
“Suaram also has a branch in Penang, which has been vocal in its criticism of the development policies in Penang. This is very well known,” he added.
Suaram secretariat member S Arutchelvan (left) also told reporters that there was nothing routine about SSM’s inspection, the only predecent being in the 1990s when Suaram tried to organise a tribunal on the police force.
“There is no such thing as a ‘routine visit’ every year. It is only when the state feels threatened that you have these kinds of raids, suddenly,” Arutchelvan said.
Suaram is the main Malaysian complainant in the Scorpene scandal, which has resulted in an investigation by the French courts into allegations of kickbacks in the submarine sale.
Terasasi, which was a party to the deal, had allegedly ‘bought’ the Royal Malaysian Navy’s evaluation documents on the submarine – papers that have been gazetted as military secret.
‘Visit not a raid’
Meanwhile, CCM has issued a statement clarifying that its visit to Suaram yesterday was not a raid, but a “routine inspection”.
“The inspection conducted by CCM was to ensure the company complied with the Companies Act 1965; as is commonly done to other companies,” it said in a statement posted on its official Facebookpage.
Under Section 7B of the Act, the commission explained that it had the power to conduct routine inspections such as the one on Suaram without the need for a warrant.
CCM also clarified that the actual inspection was not done on Suaram per se but Suara Inisiatif Sdn Bhd.
Suara Inisiatif is the company under which Suaram is registered as with the CCM.
Malaysiakini had reported yesterday that the commission’s raid on Suaram was botched by an incomplete warrant based on feedback from the NGO’s officials.
Attempts to contact CCM to clarify the matter were unsuccessful at the time.