Suaram is greatly pleased to inform all Malaysians, that the French courts have opened an inquiry into the alleged corruption, misuse and abuse of taxpayers money, linked to the purchase of the two Scorpene class submarines, back in 2002.
Judge Roger Loire – Photograph: lavoixdunord.fr
This long-awaited and timely development comes on the heels of numerous obstacles faced from the time the complaint was filed in April 2010. The high profile nature of the case naturally attracted strong and controversial reactions, right from the prosecutors very own objections to the case being heard in the open courts, to alleged political interferences from involved persons in both countries, and to Suaram’s questioned “locus standi” before the French courts.
It is with much relief and excitement that we announce this pivotal and triumphant moment for graft busters especially, a defining turn of events in our already heightened political landscape, and one that will surely give shape in the battle for change.
It has been exactly ten years since the scandal ridden procurement of the two Scorpene class submarines were made. Despite the many attempts to get answers to the many unanswered questions, we can safely say that none of the involved politicians, including then Defence Minister and now Prime Minister Najib Razak, would have ever imagined that an inquiry outside his country would open 10 years on, that will demand no stone unturned in the quest for the truth and accountability.
While quite frankly not expecting the complaint to make its way up in a foreign judicial system, we waited with baited breath for two anxious years and witnessed with disbelief how the Prosecutors’ office began to unravel further details of new commissions paid out, travel invoices and other payments made in the course of the procurement process. The murder of Altantuya Shaaribu, although not directly tied to the complaint filed, is intricately linked with the alleged payments and kickbacks made.
Our lawyers William Bourdon and Joseph Breham had informed us via email and telephone on Friday, 16 March that the case has been officially registered with the courts and will now be heard before the Paris Tribunal de Grande Instance, known as a first degree court that deals with civil litigation matters.
Two judges have been designated to the case, Judge Roger Le Loire and Judge Serge Tournaire. The lawyers have further confirmed that they will in the coming weeks be given access to the case files, and details of the prosecutors investigations will be made known to Suaram.
Our lawyers have also informed us that a Suaram delegation will need to be present before the judge, as key witnesses, to start off proceedings of the case.
To quote our lawyers “while the entire case will be a long drawn affair, the journey towards unravelling the truth has most certainly begun”. We are grateful to our lawyers who have worked very hard to ensure such a positive outcome of the case.
Suaram is confident that with the support of all concerned Malaysians, we will together fight this battle to the end, and send home the message that corruption and corrupt politicians no longer have a place in our country as we spring clean our nation and get ready for REAL CHANGE!
Many of us have long been opposed to monopolistic or oligopolistic control of institutions, including media institutions. More often than not, critiques of such control have been leveled at large corporations or moguls. Indeed, such concentration of control often invariably leads to lack of transparency and, of course, of accountability.
Hence, many who are concerned about media freedom and democracy are currently pleased, if not absolutely thrilled, with the reports about the closure of Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World (NOTW).
This, and the current revelations about the alleged dirty tricks employed by NOTW reporters and top executives, evidently now put Murdoch’s global media empire under much scrutiny and under threat.
But capitalists like Murdoch are not the only ones who wish to monopolise media ownership. Many tin-pot dictatorships and their authoritarian cousins also try to do so, believing in the maxim that those who own the means of material production (the economy, including media organisations) will also own and control the means of mental production (ideas).
Indeed, Malaysia presents a perfect example of such concentration of media ownership. But here it is very much political ownership, primarily in the hands of BN political parties, led by Umno. Sadly, though predictably of course, this has led to unethical reporting, deliberate distortion and misrepresentation and, more frequently now, the production of blatant lies.
One consequence has been the rapid decline in newspaper readership in Malaysia, with more people reading tabloids like Harian Metro and Kosmo, indicating perhaps the widespread assumption now that trivia is what’s important in a Malaysian newspaper (and television) and that `real’ news is to be got elsewhere.
And, with another layer of control being mooted through the government-proposed Media Consultative Council, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if Malaysian press reports and television news lose even more credibility over the next few months or so.
The problem with such attempts to monopolise information production these days is that new and alternative sources of information are now quite easily available. And, really, the condescending (and largely official) view that the rural heartland can still be swayed (read duped) by newspapers and television clearly doesn’t wash anymore.
Even the (allegedly ignorant) oppressed do wise up in the end. There is just so much condescension and stupidity that one can take, however humble and `uneducated’ one may be. And lately, surely out of desperation, the mainstream media and, especially, their political masters appear to have gone stir crazy.
Just this past week, the continuing overreaction to Bersih 2.0, the comments made about the late Teoh Beng Hock, and the deportation of William Bourdon have been but three clear examples of those in power having lost the script and very much lashing out blindly.
Indeed, the act of arresting, detaining and then sending elderly activist, Hii Tiong Huat, to a psychiatric ward surely smacks of more over-reaction? The poor guy has been arrested thrice in two weeks for apparently wearing a yellow t-shirt and carrying a sign board supporting Bersih, culminating in his being sent to a psychiatric hospital by the police on Friday .
Perhaps just ignoring him and spending more time catching real criminals might be a better strategy. Especially since the crime rates in KL and Selangor aren’t exactly something to boast about.
Then there’s the recent conclusion of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the death of Teoh Beng Hock. Of course, this being Malaysia, many had anticipated the outcome.
But the minister who announced the findings, himself purportedly a lawyer, surely went over the top with his `reading’ of Teoh Beng Hock’s character, when the RCI had made no such reference in its 124-page report. And what’s worse, when this was pointed out to him, he put the blame on his officers who had prepared the press statement for him.
This passing of the buck has become a shameful habit for many of those who like to see themselves as leaders, but really aren’t. And these days, they kid no one with this pathetic, uncouth behaviour.
The fact is, an innocent man is dead. Remember, he was summoned not as a suspect but as a potential witness.
And, whatever the shortcomings of the RCI, it has pointed out quite clearly at least three individuals who contributed to the death. Sure, they’ve now been suspended. But given that they are government officers, surely the least the minister could have done – indeed, surely the least the government must do – is tender an apology to Teoh Beng Hock’s family.
That’s precisely what the Malaysian Bar Council is asking of the government. Is that too much to ask of a government that talks about making Malaysia ‘a caring society’?
The third example of action and behaviour that make very little, if any, sense in this age of the internet has been, of course, the detention and deportation of French lawyer William Bourdon. Granted, Malaysian law does indeed allow for such action, without any explanation needed.
But, surely, if Bourdon had been left unimpeded to conduct his business – a high-profile case, we are now told by internet news sites, involving the French and the Scorpene submarine deal – fewer questions would have been raised and fewer people would now be talking about it while, perhaps, singing Yellow Submarine?
Indeed, last I heard, despite Bourdon being absent at the fund-raising dinner in KL, Suaram (the NGO at the heart of the case), still managed to get 500 attendees, raising RM200000 to help fund the case in the French courts. And now more people know about it simply because this French lawyer was deported for `violating the conditions of his social visit pass’.
So, there you have it. Three very recent cases – of overreaction, of intemperate behaviour, and of virtually blindly lashing out. All by people in authority. And I’ve deliberately left out UiTM’s Ibrahim Ali award (or is it non-award now?)
With all this happening, together with the ongoing detention of the PSM6 under the Emergency Ordinance, we may well ask, what is happening to this country of ours?
More pointedly, what is happening to make our `leaders’ act this way?
Indeed, could Euripedes have been right all those centuries ago?