Hornbill Unleashed

January 14, 2013

Solidarity In London – Please Return To Help Monitor Fair Elections

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:01 AM
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Sarawak Report

Outside Downing Street – the message to the British PM is that Malaysian expect free elections too, not rigged elections.

Inspired by news that half a million people had successfully made their point earlier in the day in the Merdeka Stadium and all over KL, a solid troupe of Malaysian nationals braved the cold snap to march from Trafalgar Square to Downing Street and then the Westminster Parliament today.

They waved banners and flags, chanted calls for clean elections and read out the speech by Bersih’s Ambiga Sreenevasen calling for Malaysian nationals abroad to return for the election and help participate in observing the elections – the so-called ‘Citizen Election Observers’.

The cheerful group were accompanied by a couple of low key police officers, who came in very handy in holding back the traffic as they crowded into Whitehall.

The demonstrators were particularly pleased and happy that the news had come through of similar police restraint in KL, proving that a peaceful demonstration can go off without incident as long as the ‘forces of law and order’ have not been encouraged to get tough and beat people up.

Helping hand – the police hold back the traffic as marchers walk across Trafalgar Square and into Whitehall

Message to the British Government

The posters being waved signalled a very simple series of messages, which British official observers would do well to consider.

Britain and Malaysia have been visibly cosying up over the past several months, notably since the current government arrived in Downing Street.

It is a deliberate policy that would appear to suit interests on both sides.  Najib is looking for international credibility, while the British are seeking lucrative foreign deals to help make up for a  floundering economic strategy.

The UK Prime Minister, David Cameron put it this way when he hastened out to Malaysia last year:

“This is the first time that a British Prime Minister has come to Malaysia in almost 20 years. It has been a period, as you have charitably put it Prime Minister, of benign neglect, and I am determined to put that right. So, my message today is very simple: the era of benign neglect is over. Britain is back: back to do business with Malaysia, back to build our partnership on vital global issues. We started that conversation in Downing Street with your visit, we’ve continued it today, and it is just the start of a much refreshed and reinvigorated relationship that we both want to see between our two countries”.[David Cameron, speaking in Kuala Lumpur 12/4/2012]

Don’t do deals with a dirty government.

Part of this ‘much refreshed and reinvigorated relationship’ appears to focus on a bi-lateral arms dealbeing negotiated by BAE systems for the sale of Typhoon Jets.

It is a deal that may be sweetened by the gift of a significant number of second hand jets being retired from the Royal Airforce, as part of a series of UK Defence cutbacks that have less than delighted many in the armed services.

A Free Trade agreement is also being negotiated with the European Union and clearly other bi-lateral deals are being aggressively pursued by the British as well and they are throwing everything they can at the project.

Visits by politicians, visits by Royalty and return visits too, according to Britain’s High Commissioner:

“It has certainly been a significant year for Ministerial visits, which I gather were pretty rare at Cabinet level during the terms of office of my predecessors but are now well and truly back on the agenda. Prime Minister Najib and five senior Cabinet members visited the UK last July as a guest of the British government. This was reciprocated only 9 months later by the visit in April by Prime Minister Cameron with the Trade and Higher Education Ministers and 35 business people. We have also had visits here by the Defence Secretary, Gerald Howarth (twice), Lord Green, and by Baroness Warsi, the Cabinet Minister and co-Chairman of the Conservative Party. In the opposite direction there was a second visit to the UK by Prime Minister Najib last month, and several other Cabinet ministers have visited including Foreign Minister Anifah. In the immediate future I know that at least two senior Malaysian Ministers will be visiting the Farnborough Airshow in the UK next month. The last twelve months have also seen an unprecedented number of Royal visits in both directions..”[ Simon Featherstone, British High Commissioner 26/6/2012].

By Nelson’s column – Malaysians want the same freedoms as the British, supposedly guaranteed by the British at independence.

Today’s message was clear enough from the Malaysian marchers in London. Deals with the BN government should not come at the expense of the freedom and good government of the Malaysian people.

If the UK stands accused of ignoring Malaysia’s rampant corruption as it stampedes to do business again, the banners were reminders of other issues that negotiators and diplomats should be raising.

“Widespread Election Fraud In Malaysia”; “Malaysian Government Most Corrupt In the World”; “Free The Malaysian Press”; “Clean The Electoral Roll” were just some of the blunt statements.

The same matters will be raised again in the British Parliament next week, when the NGO Suaram and clean elections campaigner, Ambiga Sreenevasen will be meeting decision-makers and MPs and informing them about Malaysia’s growing democracy deficit and corruption index.

What is the UK doing to encourage election monitoring in Malaysia?

Britain’s previous period of cosy trade with Malaysia ended with the Pergau Dam “Arms for Aid” scandal, a deal between the then Defence Minister, one Najib Razak, and a number of current high-profile conservatives.

It is a cautionary episode that the British would do well to keep in mind and a newbook has just been published, detailing the whole blundering affair.

The same Najib Razak, now Prime Minister, was also of course the man involved in pulling together the Scorpene Submarine deal that is now enmeshed in a hundred million euro kickback and murder scandal, currently being examined in a court case in France.

History suggests the UK might do well to tread more carefully and less eagerly when it comes to trading relations with the country that has now reached Number 3 in the illegal capital outflow index and to listen harder to the calls for freedom and democracy from the people who want to clean up their government.

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2 Comments »

  1. Australia is a funny place. People to people relationship is different from others. Of course, of all things, their Universities gave PhDs and all because of suspect aims- like Dr Rosmah?

    The Lynas plant is there and will be there. The Australian GOVERNMENT will collect taxes from the company. Malaysian gomen will not. So if people die because of the plant problems why should the Aussies help? They collect taxes but Malay would not!

    We hope Aussie civil society will help Malaysians and weed out this imperialism of the1st on the 3rd World!

    Comment by GE 13er — January 14, 2013 @ 10:39 AM | Reply

  2. NAJIB’S DAYS ARE NUMBERED

    Melbourne AGE news report
    Malaysian PM caught up in murder, bribery scandal
    Lindsay Murdoch January 13, 2013

    Mongolian fashion model and translator Altantuya Shaariibuu, 28, who was murdered in Malaysia in 2006 amid allegations of bribery, backmail, treachery and cover-up. Photo: Asia Sentinel

    Persistent allegations could harm the ruling party’s poll chances.
    THE plot has all the trappings of a B-grade movie: the murder of a glamorous Mongolian socialite amid allegations of high-level bribery, blackmail, betrayal and political cover-up.
    But these are real-life events, and they could set back the chances of Malaysia’s ruling coalition in an election that Prime Minister Najib Razak must call by midyear.

    Mr Najib denies involvement but the allegations will not go away. The internet in Malaysia is running hot with allegations by a disaffected businessman, Deepak Jaikishan, who is well connected in the ruling United Malays National Organisation.

    They relate in part to the alleged cover-up of the murder of 28-year-old Mongolian fashion model and translator Altantuya Shaariibuu in a patch of jungle in the Kuala Lumpur suburbs in 2006.

    The second part of the controversy is driven by an inquiry in France into a complex money trail left by Malaysia’s $US2 billion purchase of two French-Spanish built Scorpene submarines in 2002 while Mr Najib was defence minister.
    Ms Shaariibuu worked as a translator in the latter stages of the deal negotiations.

    The link between the two events is a Ferrari-driving businessman, Abdul Razak Baginda, one of Mr Najib’s best friends and policy advisers, who was the director of the Malaysian Strategic Research Centre.

    Mr Najib, who is preparing to contest his first election since being installed in power by his party in 2009, denies ever meeting Ms Shaariibuu or having any link with her. The government denies any wrongdoing in the submarine purchases.

    But it was two of Mr Najib’s bodyguards who dragged Ms Shaariibuu from a car, knocked her unconscious and shot her twice in the head on October 19, 2006, according to court testimony. She had begged for her life and apparently that of her unborn child.

    The killers then wrapped her body in C4 plastic explosives obtained from the military and blew her up, ensuring the foetus was destroyed along with the identity of the father. For good measure, they erased her entry into Malaysia from immigration records.

    The Scorpene submarine story has been tumbling out since 2002 when Mr Najib ordered them from French ship builder DCNS.

    Two French investigating magistrates are looking into so-called ”commission” payments of about $US160 million into companies reportedly set up by Mr Baginda. Documents have been seized from the DCNS offices in Paris.

    Ms Shaariibuu, who spoke several languages, became Mr Baginda’s lover after they had met in Hong Kong. Stunningly beautiful, she had been married to a popular Mongolian singer and to the son of a famous Mongolian fashion designer.

    Ms Shaariibuu admitted in a letter found after her murder that she had been blackmailing Mr Baginda, who had jilted her after they had travelled through Asia and Europe together.

    She reportedly had wanted a $US500,000 cut to remain silent about her knowledge of the deal.

    Ms Shaariibuu was abducted outside Mr Baginda’s house, where she was said to be causing a scene. Her murder was eventually uncovered following continued pressure from her well-connected family and the Mongolian embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

    The two bodyguards were convicted of murder in 2009 but have claimed they are scapegoats and are appealing against death sentences. Pleading with a court not to execute him in February 2009, Sirul Azhar Umar described himself as a ”black sheep that has to be sacrificed” to protect unnamed people.

    ”I have no reason to cause hurt, what’s more to take the life of the victim in such a cruel manner,” he said.

    ”I appeal to the court, which has the powers to determine if I live or die, not to sentence me so as to fulfil others’ plans for me.”

    A judge sensationally dropped an abetting a murder charge against Mr Baginda in 2008 before any evidence was heard and he is believed to be living in exile in Britain with his family.

    Among several claims made by Mr Deepak – a carpet dealer – to opposition and independent websites are that he interceded to have a private detective change his 2008 sworn declaration that Mr Najib had had a sexual relationship with Ms Shaariibuu.

    The Prime Minister has repeatedly denied any relationship with Ms Shaariibuu, calling it a ”terrible lie”.

    Often sensational claims and counter claims in the case have been barely reported in Malaysia’s government-controlled mainstream media.

    The Malaysian human rights non-government organisation SUARAM, whose approach to a magistrate in Paris in 2010 prompted the French investigation, has complained of official harassment.

    But the claims are hot issues on opposition and independent websites, led by the Hong Kong-based Asia Sentinel online magazine, which published confidential files on the case last year and whose editor, John Berthelsen, has doggedly pursued the story for years.

    Malaysia, with a population of 28 million, has an internet penetration of more than 62 per cent, one of the highest in south-east Asia.

    Some commentators in Kuala Lumpur, including Wong Choon Mei writing in the Malaysia Chronicle, have speculated that 59-year-old Mr Najib could be forced from office before he gets to call the election. Jittery powerbrokers in UMNO fear that if he remains head of the coalition, they may lose to the opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, and his Pakatan Rakyat coalition.

    There is infighting in UMNO, which has shared power in the country for more than 50 years, as the latest opinion polls show Mr Najib’s approval rating has fallen to its lowest level in 16 months.

    Wong wrote in the Chronicle on January 7 that UMNO watchers believed former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad had decided to throw his weight behind Deputy Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, and effect an 11th-hour change in leadership, although many have cautioned that such a move could boomerang and create even greater infighting.

    But Mr Najib, the son of Malaysia’s second prime minister, has emerged unscathed by the prosecution of his bodyguards and is publicly ignoring the French inquiry and Mr Deepak’s claims as he presents himself as a reformist, abolishing several restrictive laws and implementing a program to bolster unity among ethnic groups.

    Malaysia’s economy has fared well and the country is considered by the Work Bank to be an attractive place to do business. On January 8, Mr Najib denied rumours he had suffered a minor stroke due to the pressure of the allegations by Mr Deepak, saying he is healthy. ”So don’t listen to the blogs, please,” he said.

    Analysts say the election will be the strongest ever challenge to UMNO’s rule. Mr Najib has called the coming election ”a defining point for the destiny of the people and country”.
    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

    Comment by NEWSITEMS — January 14, 2013 @ 9:02 AM | Reply


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