Tuesday, December 8, 2009


When reporters sought to question Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak in Kuala Lumpur Friday by reporters regarding private investigator P Balasubramaniam’s latest revelations implicating Najib’s family in covering up the murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu, Najib snapped: “I will not entertain any frivolous statement” and asked to move on to the next question.

Balasubramaniam was hired by Abdul Razak Baginda, one of Najib’s best friends, to protect him from the 28-year-old Altantuya in 2006 after Baginda had jilted her. In a series of conversations, Baginda reportedly told Balasubramaniam he had in effect inherited the young woman from Najib, who felt that as deputy prime minister it would be unseemly to have her as a mistress. Balasubramaniam disappeared suddenly after making public a statutory declaration giving excruciating details of Baginda’s relationship with both Altantuya and Najib.

In a series of sensational exchanges published on YouTube in November, Balasubramaniam surfaced to say that after he had made public the statutory declaration giving the details of what Baginda had told him, he was forced to retract it and to disappear along with his family into India.

Bala alleged that Deepak Jaikishan, who operates a carpet company in Kuala Lumpur and who is a close associate of Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor, had offered him RM5 million (US$1.47 million) and that Nazim Razak, Najib’s brother, had threatened to harm his family unless he followed Deepak’s instructions to disappear. This happened on July 4, the day Balasubramaniam disclosed his first affidavit. Fearing for the safety of his family, Bala said he had retracted under coercion the allegations linking Najib to Altantuya in a second affidavit the next day, and disappeared immediately with his family until his recent interview, which was captured in video and recorded in transcripts. These were first published in Malaysia Today.

In the interview, Bala described how he and his family had embarked on their fugitive journey to India under the overall direction of Deepak, a rather convoluted and lengthy voyage that saw them passing through or staying for various durations at Singapore, Bangkok, Kathmandu, New Delhi, Madras and eventually Chennai.

Bala gave a detailed description of occurrences supported by factual details that pinpoint the relevant players, locations, times, dates, durations, hotels, monetary figures, checks, bank accounts, etc which were displayed on the Internet.

Circulated first on Malaysia Today, edited by Raja Petra Kamaruddin, the Balasubramaniam interviews created a storm on the Web and were subsequently picked up by Malaysiakini and a flock of other blogs. According to, as many as 1,700 sites are linked to Malaysia Today, whose own uniques run to as many as 100,000 daily readers. The Facebook interviews have circulated by email and have been translated into both Malay and Chinese. A photocopy brigade also copies and distributes translated items in the rural areas that do not have internet. Thus tens of thousands of people have probably seen the interviews.

But against the allegations, Najib, his associates, his family and his government have maintained a deafening silence, at least until Najib dismissed the questions as “frivolous” and not worthy of his response during a press conference after an UMNO supreme council meeting.

Bala’s accusation is buttressed by precise facts and details such as checks to Balasubramaniam that were drawn on Kuala Lumpur banks and signed by Deepak that could be easily debunked if false, while Najib and his group have chosen to remain silent in spite of the serious nature of the accusations. Although Najib as prime minister had the power to order an investigation to bring Balasubramaniam to face justice, so far he has not done so, apparently preferring to hope to ride out the accusations.

There are mountains of questions Najib could have answered. Evidence of justice being aborted to protect Najib is found in the numerous irregularities that have occurred before and during the trial of the Altantuya murder. Najib was not questioned despite the fact that the two elite bodyguards who were convicted of the woman’s gruesome execution took orders from him. Najib’s chief of staff, Musa Safri, by Baginda’s admission, sent the two bodyguards to pick her up. The two convicted policemen had no apparent motive to commit the murder on their own.

The judge, prosecutors and even a defence lawyer abruptly replaced without credible reasons shortly before the trial. No motive for the murder was ever raised during the trial.

Both prosecutors and defense lawyer teamed up during the trial to prevent critical evidence being pursued in court, such as reports of a photograph showing Altantuya and Najib taking meals together. Immigration entry records of Altantuya and her Mongolian companions disappeared from the immigration ministry. Bala’s original affidavit ws barred from the court without credible reasons.

Baginda, the third accused, who was charged with instigating the murder, was released without his defense being called, leaving open the question of who ordered the killing – especially since a confession by one of the two bodyguards indicated someone was going to pay them RM100,000 to kill her and her Mongolian companions – who were spared after the two went to their hotel to discover the building was protected by CCTV. Instead they chose to pick up Altantuya in front of Baginda’s house and drive her to a suburb where she was shot in the head and her body was blown up with explosives.

It is difficult for Najib to this clear himself of the lingering suspicions that have surrounded him and his wife, by waving away inquisitive questions by a curt reply like he gave at the press conference. The latest Bala revelations are regarded as constituting a challenge to the integrity and legitimacy of Najib’s premiership, for which he must now account to the nation. The only way to do that without dishonoring his oath of office is to commission a truly independent panel to uncover the truth and account to the nation. It is unlikely, however, that any independent panel would ever be established.

Pejabat Ketua AMK