When he was in London, Prime Minister Najib met with the international press corps and showed that he really doesn’t understand what democracy means.
Here is what he said, as reported in the New York Times:
Malaysian Prime Minister Defends Muzzling of Protests
LONDON — If the Malaysian government allowed street demonstrations of the kind seen in Kuala Lumpur last weekend, the country would face protracted instability, Prime Minister Najib Razak said Wednesday.
Mr. Najib spoke after thousands of advocates of electoral change defied a government ban and held a large street protest Saturday, during which the police fired tear gas and water cannons and arrested nearly 1,700 demonstrators.
“Public order is very important in Malaysia because if we allow for street demonstrations, there’s no end to it, there will be another group that wants to demonstrate,” Mr. Najib told a small group of international reporters Wednesday in London, where he was to meet the British prime minister and attend an investment conference.
If protests are not controlled, “you will get a situation in which more and more of these street demonstrations will take place in Malaysia,” he said.
That’s it? Najib says that If we allow people to exercise their constitutional right to freedom of assembly, they might actually come together and assemble freely? That if we allow them their freedom of speech, they might actually speak freely?
Is that a bad thing? What is wrong with that?
My dear Prime Minister, that is what democracy is all about.
True democracies have demonstrations all the time — in America, Australia, Japan, France, England, Germany, and so on and so on.
Those demonstrations are not seen as a threat to public order or national security. We don’t lock down the city, or tear gas our fellow citizens or beat them simply because they disagree with us.
True democracies allow their citizens to speak freely.
When Najib met the international press corps in London, he said, in effect , “If we act like a democracy, we might end up becoming a democracy.”
And that is bad?
I do not think the international press corps in London had any sympathy for Najib’s statements. Rather, they found the whole thing very bizarre, like something out of the 19th century. And that is why his comments were reported in the New York Times.
Another self-inflicted black eye for Najib.
Embattled Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is learning the hard way that it never rains but it pours.
In England, where he has just been snubbed in the most gentle way by the Queen for cracking down on a peaceful protest, Najib is off next to the Vatican to see the Pope.
But flying into Kuala Lumpur are French lawyers, armed with new information from a submarines probe of “bigger” kickbacks paid by arms-maker DCN to “extremely high-level” Malaysian officials, which could pin down the Malaysian premier.
“If you say extremely high-level, I don’t see how the implication can be avoided that it involves the main guy behind the deal, which is of course the minister of Defense who at that time was Najib Razak,” PKR vice president Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.
So many new commissions and top officials involved
In 2002, as Defense minister, Najib had pushed for an RM7 billion ringgit deal to buy two Scorpene and one Agosta submarine from DCN. The acquisition was opposed by political rivals and citizen groups on the grounds that the price was too exorbitant and the vessels unsuitable for the purpose of montioring Malaysia’s rather shallow coastline.
Nonetheless, the BN government hammered the deal through and it was only years later when the full cost of acqusition was revealed in Parliament, and following the controversial murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu, believed to be a translator for the Malaysian negotiators, that local rights group Suaram decided to file a complaint in Paris.
Suaram’s purpose is to make DCN account for the transaction and return to Malaysian taxpayers any inappropriate money it added to the pricing to cover for the comissions paid. It is illegal in France for firms to pay kickbacks to clients. In Malaysia, since the contracting parties are part of the ruling coalition headed by Najib himself, obviously there has been strenuous resistance to come clean on the deal.
For example, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has refused to investigate the case and even if the French courts do eventually find DCN guilty of bribing Malaysian officials including Najib’s proxies, unless there is heavy public pressure, the BN is likely to try and bluster its way through without punishing Najib at all.
“It won’t be the first time for such a scandal to happen. Look at the Altantuya murder and all the unanswered questions about her death. Yet those who are the most suspicious have been let off the hook or not investigated at all. But let’s not pre-empt the lawyers and wait for what they have to tell us, and what the Parisian courts eventually decide,” said Tian.
Malaysian civil rights group Suaram, which is heading the citizens charge in the kickbacks probe, filed a complaint in the French capital in 2010 after failing to make headway with the local authorities.
“We are shocked that there are many more commissions being paid out to unidentified government officials in the country and these are top officials,” Malaysiakini reported Suaram director Cynthia Gabriel as saying on Friday.
“I cannot reveal much but would encourage everyone to attend the event. The details would be revealed at the lawyer’s exclusive presentation in the dinner events.”
New information uncovered
So far, the BN federal government has denied any wrong-doing. According to current Defense minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, payments were made to only two contractors – France’s DCNS and Spain’s Navantia – for the construction of the submarines.
It also termed a side-deal worth 114 million euros or RM540 million awarded to Perimekar, an obscure firm controlled by Razak Baginda, as a cordination-services contract. Baginda is Najib’s close friend and negotiator in the submarines acquisition
Obviously, Suaram’s French lawyers have zoomed in on the Perimekar deal and are expected to grill DCN on it when court hearings begin next month. The French probe has also revealed another 30 million euros or RM150 million were paid to DCN’s commercial network Thales and another 2.5 million euros or RM7.5 million paid to an “unknown” recipient.
Going by the latest Suaram announcement, its lawyers are likely to have uncovered a “third” commission and also managed to track down the identity of the receipient or receipients. Cynthia had also told reporters on Friday that “bigger” commissions were paid to “extremely high level” government officials.
Other crucial information uncovered by the French lawyers include the identity of a mystery “third man”, who had travelled with Baginda and Altantuya to Macau. The identities of the other people involved may also be revealed by Suaram’s lawyers.
May dredge up some justice for Altantuya
The French hearing will focus on the submarines deal but due to Altantuya’s connection with Razak Baginda, information about her and her role in the transaction is bound to come out one way or another. For example, was she present at meetings with DCN, did she do translation work, what was her role, was Najib also present at these meetings?
The answers may well pave the way for a breakthrough in her own murder trial. Two of Najib’s former bodyguards have been sentenced to hang for her death but they only met her on the night of her killing and had no motive. One of them even said he was paid RM100,000 to do so. The manifestly-biased trial judge had also refused to allow any questioning on whether they had been paid to kill her and who had ordered them to do so?
Najib has denied ever knowing her, amid allegations that she was his former lover before he passed her onto Baginda. As for Baginda, who was aquitted for abetting her murder, he has admitted that she was his lover and also that he had wanted the two bodyguards to keep her from harassing him. But he denied he ever asked them to kill her. During the high-profile trial, Baginda’s wife once shouted out that her husband was innocent and that he “does not want to be PM”. Najib was at that time the deputy prime minister and very anxious to move into the top seat.
Suaram is also trying raise RM100,000 for legal fees and has organised two functions, whereby its French lawyers will present their latest findings. Other guest speakers will also be invited. On July 21, the first dinner presentation will be held in Bayan Baru and due to speak are lawyer William Bourdon, Tian, DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang and PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu.
On July 23, a similar briefing will be held by Suaram and Bourdon in Kuala Lumpur.